Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

December 19, 2013

Fresh pasta easier, tastier than you might think

MAPLE CITY — Nothing beats a box of Barilla boiled to a tooth-resisting al dente and kissed with tasty condiments for a quick and satisfying meal.

But dry pasta may not do when a celebration is in order. Homemade fresh pasta is perfect for a festive holiday meal. And preparing it is not as difficult as you might think.

Of all the culinary gifts other cultures have bestowed upon us, pasta must be among the most adored. Italian Marco Polo often gets the credit as the ambassador of pasta, but some food historians think that Greek chefs introduced Romans to the first pasta in the form of dried trahana, a mixture of semolina flour or bulgar wheat and soured milk or yogurt.

Southern Italians went on to develop dry pasta, and serve it with tomato- or olive oil-based sauces. Northern Italians, who cultivated fertile farmlands, created handmade pastas rich with egg and sauced with cream, butter, pork, beef and cheese.

Preparing fresh pasta doesn’t have to be a high-tech nightmare. Whether you make the dough with a fork or a food processor, roll and cut it with rolling pin and pasta cutter or with a pasta machine, the outcome will be the same: luscious.

Low-tech types can start with 23/4 cups all-purpose flour and a teaspoon of salt mounded on a work surface. Make a well in the center. Beat and pour in three large eggs. Stir the eggs with a fork, slowly bringing flour into them until a soft, non-sticky dough forms. Knead dough for five minutes until it’s smooth.

For those with a food processor and pasta machine, pour three cups of all-purpose flour and a teaspoon salt into the bowl of the processor. With the machine running, slowly and sparingly pulse in 1/2 to 7/8 cups slightly whisked eggs as necessary.

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