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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

04.22.2002

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noodling around make your own fresh pasta noodles 1 2 3 4

Even if youíre relatively cooking-impaired, you probably think you know how to make pasta. Itís just three simple steps: Boil water. Open box. Dump in and stir. Right?

Well, not exactly. That there would be your instructions for cooking pasta, which, if weíre getting picky about semantics, really isnít the same thing at all. Not too long ago, I invited a friend over for dinner and told her weíd make pasta from scratch. Her skeptical response: "Oh, you can do that?"

Yes indeed Ė because contrary to what some folks might believe, pasta doesnít just grow on trees like apples, or sprout in fields like corn. And it definitely doesnít hatch in boxes. Before you get to that familiar cooking step, someone, somewhere, has to actually make the pasta. If youíre using dried pasta from your supermarket, that someone might be Prince, or Ronzoni, or Barilla, or whatever company makes the no-name store brand you like to buy because itís cheap. But if you have a hankering for good, fresh pasta, your best bet is to roll up your sleeves, prepare to get a little messy, and start kneading up some dough.

Fresh pasta is cheap, and pretty much a no-brainer to make once youíve had just a little practice. At its simplest, it consists of just three ingredients: eggs, flour, and salt. Occasionally you might find you need to add a splash of water; some people like to add some oil. And of course, you can get fancy by adding fresh herbs, spinach, and other flavorings and colorings. But eggs, flour and salt are the only true necessities Ė and itís amazing how three ho-hum ordinary ingredients can come together to form something so divinely delicious.

If youíve never had fresh pasta before, youíre in for a surprise. With its supple feel and a texture thatís simultaneously chewy and satiny-light all at the same time, cooked fresh pasta is an entirely different creature than the dried pasta youíre used to eating. Donít get me wrong: I like dried pasta just fine. And with some sauces, notably oil-based sauces, the dried version actually seems to work better, as it doesnít soak up the liquid quite as readily as the fresh stuff. But while I generally appreciate dried pasta as a vehicle for a beautiful sauce, fresh pasta stands on its own merits. Itís so good it makes me feel like a culinary genius every time I make it.

start making the dough...

 

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