Food Processor Pasta
We have a fall tradition that fills in the void between summer and winter holidays. We have a pasta party, or sometimes already two during September and October. The weather cools down and we can open up the house and invite friends over to make pasta from scratch. We start out with a light brunch and planning our pasta elements and increasing rapidly into groups for each flavor. Each associate or individual brings a salad or meat to go with the finished pasta.
If you’ve never had homemade pasta, you need to give a try. The basic recipe is very simple, here is a quick list of elements for making one pound of homemade pasta:
· 2&1/4 Cups of unbleached flour
· 3 large eggs
· Pinch of salt
· Water, or Oil, or milk (3 to 4 tablespoons)
· A minced vegetable for flavor (optional)
We prefer to use oil since it keeps the dough from dying out and adds a good flavor but some people like water. We also use spinach, broccoli, zucchini, or other vegetable for flavor but plain is good too. This is where the party really starts since many people bring their own special vegetable to create in any case flavor they like. And we have had some real uncommon elements since anything goes.
We use a food processor but you could also mix this by hand. Use the plastic dough blade if you have one but the metal chopping blade will work. You combine the dry elements in the bowl and pulse a few time to mix well. Beat the three eggs to combine the whites and yolks. Turn the food processor on and slowly pour the eggs in and continue to course of action until the dough becomes a ball and works away from the edge of the bowl.
This part only takes about 5 minutes. Now the kneading begins and continues until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Be sure to powder the working surface with flour and work quickly if you used water instead of oil since it will dry out quicker. Depending on your elements and effort, this part can take about 10 to 15 minutes.
We roll the dough back into a ball and cover with plastic wrap to “rest” for about an hour at room temperature. At our parties we use this time making our sauces for each of the different pasta flavors. Pesto is always a standard but many fresh vegetable flavors are popular, some cooked and some not.
We use hand crank pasta machines (they cost about $10-$13) since they are quick and easy. Always make sure you run some test dough by any new pasta machine to clean out any residue of manufacturing (every single one I’ve ever bought had grease, oil, or already metal filings). Either make or buy several pasta-drying racks since the pasta will need to hang dry for about 2-3 hours before cooking (some people don’t dry very long but we’ve found it to really enhance the flavor).
The first course of action with the pasta machine is to flatten portions of the dough into about 1/16 inch thick, 4 inch wide, and maybe 12-inch long lengths (the length is how thick and long the strand of pasta will be). Once you like the size and thickness you then run these slabs by the cutting section. You can have different shapes and sizes depending on your obtainable blades. The standard fettuccine style is the most popular at our parties but you can also just cut shapes out of the dough slabs (like cookie cutters) for any shape you can make.
It’s hard to describe the antics that occur when first timers go by this homemade pasta routine. Throw in a associate of glass of wine and before you know it, wet pasta is hanging everywhere. It’s a good time and the reward at the end is well worth the work. We usually will find some group games to play while the pasta is drying. Sometimes there might be a football game on or some movie to watch.
When the pasta is dry, the boiling begins and within about 30-40 minutes there is a wide variety of pasta flavors and sauces to try for dinner. Out come the salads and meat dishes, and then everyone mixes and matches to their choice. Trust me when I say no one goes home hungry after one of these parties.
You could have these parties anytime of year, spring would be good too since many fresh vegetables would be obtainable. We just started doing it in the fall and it’s kind of stuck. You can always find quite a few good recipes that come with your food processor or pasta machine to try. Or just experiment on your own. It’s fun and quite an economical way to by a party any time of year.