RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Making fresh pasta is very easy, and requires no special equipment (despite what the pasta-machine makers may tell you). The result is a gourmet treat for half the price and twice the taste of that boring stuff that comes in a box. Fresh pasta also cooks really fast, which can help shrink the eco-footprint of your diet by reducing the energy it takes to cook it. All types of pasta—spaghetti, lasagna, bow ties, and even ravioli and pierogies—are basically the same thing: some type of flour, plus liquid (usually water, egg, or a combination), a pinch of salt, and, if you so desire, some pureed veggies, such as cooked spinach or tomato paste. So to make your own pasta, you start out with a basic pasta recipe and then follow the instructions for how to cut, fold, and cook.
Basic Whole Wheat Pasta Dough Recipe (4 servings)
2 cups sifted organic whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat flour and half organic unbleached all-purpose flour), plus ¼ to ½ cup more for rolling it out later
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
Directions, Manual Method:
In a small bowl, beat the eggs, water, and salt until the mixture is a uniform color. Scoop the sifted flour into a pile on a clean counter, and make a depression in the top so it's shaped like a volcano.
Pour the egg mixture into the depression and use a fork to stir the egg mixture, gradually working in more and more of the flour until it is all incorporated. You should have a big lump of soft, but not sticky, dough. If it is too dry to form into a lump, add water ½ teaspoon at a time until it's soft enough; if the dough is too sticky, work in more flour a teaspoon at a time.
Once the consistency is right, knead the dough until it's smooth and stretchy. First, flatten the lump with the heels of your hands and then fold the dough over on itself and turn it a quarter turn; flatten the folded dough again, fold and turn again, and so on. Sprinkle a little extra flour onto the counter as needed to keep the dough from sticking. If any does stick, clean it off by scraping off as much as you can with a wooden or stiff plastic scraper. Then wash off the remaining residue with cold water and a sponge; hot water will start cooking the dough and make it harder to dissolve. Rinse doughy hands under cold water for the same reason.