I just returned home from Italy last month where I learned how to make fresh pasta. So inspired, I ordered the pasta roller set attachments for my KitchenAid stand mixer. Had I know how easy fresh pasta was to make, I'd have probably done this sooner, especially had I know how much better fresh pasta is than the dried stuff. I've made fettuccine, I've made raviolis and last weekend I made lemon pepper spaghetti. Oh.......my.......god, it was spectacularly good.
For regular old unflavored pasta start with 3 1/2 cups of flour and 5 eggs
Italians use "00" flour which is pretty fine. I used Softasilk cake flour for my pasta, which works our really well and gives a nice, tender pasta. Since I was making flavored pasta I beat the 5 eggs first and then beat in 1 Tablespoon each of fresh ground pepper - kind of a medium grind - and lemon zest and poured that into the flour well.
Using a fork I just started incorporating the flour along the inner wall into the beaten eggs, incorporating a little bit more as I go around the wall of flour. It's pretty soupy at the beginning but after just a few minutes the flour and eggs come together and form a rather stick dough. Now the real fun begins
The dough needs to be kneaded for 10 full minutes in order to develop the gluten. The dough is really kind of tough and resistant when the kneading starts, By the end, however, it has become much softer and much more pliable. It then needs to rest for half an hour.
Once the dough has had it's 30 minute nap, it's ready to roll and the roller attachment for the KitchenAid makes that a snap.
The first few passes through the rollers continue the kneading process in addition to stretching the dough. The dough ball is cut into quarters and the rollers adjusted to the widest setting. A dough ball is put through the roller which will flatten and begin stretching it. Once the whole dough ball has passed through the rollers it it folded into thirds and passed through the rollers again. The folding and rolling is repeated 3 more times for a total of 5 passes on the first setting. After the 5th pass, the roller is adjusted down one notch which narrows the roller opening. The dough is once again folded into thirds and passed through the roller 4 times, folding into thirds (or halves) after each pass, and dusting with some extra cake flour if it gets too sticky. After the fourth pass through the rollers, they are adjusted down yet another notch. This time the dough is just folded in half and then passed through the rollers 3 times, after which the rollers are notched down again. On the last couple of passes the dough does not need to be folded and should be, by now, a fairly long, fairly smooth, very pliable sheet of dough. If it gets too long, cut it and work with each half, which is what I did with the lemon pepper pasta. Once I had the dough to the thickness and suppleness that I wanted, I switched from the roller attachment to the spaghetti cutter attachment. This is what I ended up with.
The flavor of the pasta was perfect. There was a nice citrus zing that was wonderfully enhanced by the bite from the black pepper. But how to finish it? A quick rummage through the fridge turned up more than enough items to play with. Onions and red pepper were sauteed with some garlic. The lemons that surrendered their zest were juiced and that was added, along with some chicken stock, to the sauteed onions and peppers. The addition of a slurry of heavy cream and a bit of flour thickened the mixture up just enough to coat the pasta. Some grated Parmesan and steamed asparagus finished the bones of the sauce.
The crowning glory was the thick cut pork chop, also a left over, that was sliced and shingled out over the top of the plated spaghetti. Garnished with a few chopped green onions and dinner was on the table.