Monday, 20 April 2009

Homemade wholemeal pasta

by Julie
Towards Sustainability

At home, making our own pasta from scratch not only saves us money, we can control what is in it (organic and/or local ingredients where possible), it tastes better than the bought stuff, and it's ridiculously easy to make.

I like to use a 50:50 mix of white and wholemeal (wholewheat) flour because I've found that using straight wholemeal flour tends to be a bit gluggy for my family's taste buds; half and half makes for a pasta which everyone will eat, although I use straight wholemeal if it just for myself and my husband. Traditionally, white pasta dough is made with just eggs and flour, but I feel that wholemeal pasta needs a little olive oil too.

The basic recipe we use is:

450g/ 1 pound wholemeal (wholewheat) plain flour (or a mixture of white and wholemeal)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

It's traditional to make the pasta dough on the bench top - make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs and the olive oil to the well, then slowly mix the dough by hand, gradually incorporating the eggs and oil into the flour as you go.

My 3 year old daughter likes to help though, so for the sake of us retaining at least some of the flour while mixing, we use a bowl ;-)

Once incorporated, knead the dough for around five minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp towel or wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for around an hour. When you use wholemeal flour you don't tend to get as smooth a dough as you would using all-white flour, but I quite like the "rustic" look.

Once rested, roll it out very thinly using a pasta machine or rolling pin. Folding the dough in half over itself several times as you roll it out will help the final texture of the pasta. If you are using a pasta machine, roll it through the largest setting several times, folding it over on itself in between rolling. Then roll it progressively through the smaller settings until you reach the desired thickness.

Once I've finished rolling, I cut it into strips for fettuccine using the cutter on the pasta machine, but using a knife or pizza cutter is just as quick. Leave it in whole sheets for use in lasagne.

I was lucky enough to acquire my almost-brand-new, never-been-used pasta machine at my local op-shop, and lightly used ones pop up fairly regularly if feel the need for one. Rolling out the dough is a family affair. Everyone loves to have a go at turning the handle!

We don't bother drying the pasta before eating it, it just goes straight into boiling water for a few minutes, until al dente. If you like, you can air-dry the pasta for an hour or so before cooking, in which case it will need cooking for a few minutes longer (around 6-8 minutes).

Pasta dough also freezes really well for several months. Tip it straight into boiling water too cook - too easy! Make sure it is well floured when you freeze it though so that it doesn't stick together in a big clump. If you have the room, freezing it on a tray initially and then tipping it into a container for long-term storage also prevents clumping.

We like eating it with simple, rustic sauces using whatever is in season, or using home-preserved tomatoes as a base. Yum!

There are plenty of great, more detailed instructions on the internet for making pasta from scratch if you want more details, including hundreds of videos like this one on YouTube.

Buon appetito!


Kimberly said...

Thanks for the tips! I tried a recipe a few weeks ago, but didn't care for it. I'll try yours this week.

Sandy said...

I cannot believe how easy that was. Why did I think that would be complicated? I can't wait to try this with my kids. Then I can stop hunting all over town for whole wheat pastas. Thanks for posting! :)

Carpe Diem Acreage said...

I finally purchased a pasta machine and made my first homemade noodles this past Friday. It was super simple and my family loved the pasta!

Olive said...

Yes, much tastier than factory produce, where they make pasta with dehydrated egg powder.
I mix my dough in a food processor (not the right way I know, but much easier) This way you can add basil or sun dried tomato to flavour. Make sure that all the seeds are removed from the tomato or it will tear the pasta as it passes through the rollers. Simple, just add the desired herbs to 1 cup of flour in the processor and blend till it has coloured the flour, add the remainder of flour, eggs etc. Hang to dry. Keeps for months in an airtight container.
PS. If using herbs make sure that you dry most of the washing water from the leaves or it will be too "gluggy"

livinginalocalzone said...

Great tips. I made my first wholemeal pasta last weekend, and it was so good - can't compare to the commercial kind. No pasta machine, but I was able to roll it thinly and cut the strips by hand, and it was fine.

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

Sounds delish and easy to do. I like the food processor idea.

Chiot's Run said...

I love making pasta, I started a few years ago and never looked back. You can't buy it after eating delicious homemade.

lizzylanefarm said...

Thanks you so very much for this information. We eat only wholwheat around here for diet reasons. Have you seen the price on these boxes! Almost double just because it's wholewheat.

I like the idea that it can be frozen, something I didn't know. This will be helpful in not having to do all that extra work for pasta every time I need some.

If you dry it first can it be stored the way in a box or container without freezing it?


Julie said...

Hi everyone,
Thanks for the positive comments :-)

@ Olive: Yum, they sound divine, thanks :-)

@ Karyn: Yes, as Olive said, she dries hers and it keeps in an airtight container for months. Cheaper and yummier than the bought stuff!

Cheers, Julie

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I make two kinds of Hungarian home made "pasta" or dumplings. One we call spaetzle or nokedli and it needs a special simple piece of equipment you can buy from a German import store or online, probably. The other is called csipetke (chipetke) and is simple one or two eggs with as much flour worked in as you can make it hold. Csipne means to pinch and when you have a piece of this dough you pinch off small bits into a pot of boiling Gulyas leves, or Hungarian cowboy soup. But you could put it into any soup where you want a hearty small noodlish something. It is quite filling and has a good texture.

Saver Queen said...

Wow, this looks great! I wish I had a pasta machine!

Sharon said...

I have only one word to say after making them-YUMMY!!!!!

simplysharon said...

Oohh I think I'll try this. I've often thought of making my own pasta but have been intimidated. This looks like something I could do.

wannabecook said...

Hi thinking bout starting to make my own pasta and this looks so easy and so yummy - does anybody know where to get a pasta machine, and whether they all come with the different settings to roll them thin? great idea about the sundried toms too!