By: Elizabeth Webber Akre
Those of you with children know how vital pasta can be in a meal repertoire. Kids and spaghetti and meatballs are a natural match. My whole adult life, I’ve wanted to make pasta. I’ve read countless recipes. The making of the dough is simple and ingredients are minimal. I always read recipes about halfway, get excited, and then inevitably reach the end where each and every recipe tells you to drag out your pasta machine. I guess each time I hoped I’d find that someone would tell me a way to make pasta without this tool. But, alas, it has never happened.
I am one of those people whom the holidays (and my birthday and anniversary) actually sneak up on. Each time one of the gift-giving seasons rolls around, my mom asks me “What do you want for your birthday, Christmas?” etc. My usual answer is “I dunno. I haven’t thought about it.” Well, this Christmas when she asked me, I actually had an answer! I don’t know how in the world this thought popped into my head at this exact moment, after all these years, but I said quite frankly, “I want the pasta machine attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer.” There you have it.
My wonderful parents came through and I received the pasta roller attachment, along with a spaghetti and fettuccine cutter. Mama Mia! I’m in business now! The next day, I mixed up a simple egg pasta recipe using my standing mixer, then attached my pasta roller and BAM! I had homemade, fresh pasta. In about 45 minutes (the dough has to rest before you roll it out) you have your own fresh pasta.That first day we cut spaghetti and tried it with simple red sauce, with olive oil and one batch just with a little butter and salt. It makes such a difference making it yourself. It’s so much more tender without being too delicate.
Our next endeavor was ravioli. After reading several recipes in several different cookbooks, I settled on a simple ricotta cheese filling. The little one and I rolled out pasta sheets and filled our little ravioli pockets. This time around, we opted to toss the finished ravioli in a little butter and olive oil mixture and then sprinkled it with chopped, toasted walnuts. Green salad on the side and we were happy little bambinos. Next time, we’re going with seafood ravioli of some sort – lobster or crab probably. And after that, homemade lasagna sheets. Can’t wait for that.
So, if you’ve been longing for fresh pasta but have been intimidated or lacking the right equipment like me, invest and have fun with it. You don’t have to have a standing mixer. For a bazillion years, Italians have been using hand-cranked pasta rollers or even cutting the noodles by hand (gasp!) You’ll appreciate the difference between homemade and store bought pasta and it’s fun to make. The kids love it especially. And, remember, you can make your own and either roll it up and store in the fridge, or hang it on a drying rack and use it later. Homemade is always better. Always.
Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-Be Chef)” in addition to being a Realtor®, wife, mom, Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher. You know, she wears many hats, like Every Woman! J Like you.