When I was in high school, I started seriously reading cookbooks — trying to decipher how to cook. My obsession began with vegetarian ones (I was a vegetarian at the time). I collected them, paging through the recipes and imagining the day when I could figure out how to take those words and translate them to my plate. I could picture the dinner parties I’d host where I would wow my imaginary guests with my kitchen prowess. There was only one little problem: all the recipes seemed impossible. They were filled with ingredients we never had or riddled with processes and terms that I was completely unfamiliar with.
It was kind of sad. So instead, I would microwave a cheapie personal cheese pizza, adding olives, and feel accomplished.
At the time, I had pretty much zero cooking skills. Unless you count microwaving marshmallows till they puff and explode as “skills.” No? Right, so no cooking skills to speak of. And worse, I was afraid to really try. While I had grown up making potato pancakes and applesauce with my aunt, I really was clueless in the kitchen. Frankly, I worried that if I would poison everyone if I undercooked something or mixed it in the wrong order or combined the wrong mix of ingredients. Back then, I didn’t realize that cooking and baking were different beasts (it should be noted that I could, however, bake cookies like nobody’s business). I had no idea that cooking could be so forgiving.
Now I do.
And I hope you do too. Because being afraid to experiment in the kitchen is just silly — it’s the combination of flavors and re-imagining of foods that keeps cooking interesting. It’s how food is reborn and remade and modernized. And best of all, anyone can do it. Anyone can switch things up a little bit and create a new dish that is absolutely mouthwatering. You can do it. Just be fearless in the kitchen.
This weekend I was stuck at home (Shawn’s car is awaiting an important repair), and suddenly wanted to make pasta for dinner. And by “make pasta” I mean mix up eggs, flour and a few other things to make fresh dough and then roll, cut and cook it. Yeah, that kind of make. It wasn’t my first time. In fact, I have had the pasta attachments for my KitchenAid for more than eight years. They were a wedding present from one of my high school friends. But I can’t say I use the attachments that often — I should, but I don’t.
I mean making pasta? It just sounds like so much work. And for what? Something I can buy all ready to go?
Yep. It’s easy to think like that. Even if it’s really not quite true. In fact, when I buckled down and just did it this weekend, I remembered how easy it really is to make homemade egg pasta. Honestly, after making this pasta this week, it’s going to be hard to return to the box.
Hear me out for a second.
The idea of this is daunting, but the process is really simple.
Homemade pasta starts with a simple dough — this homemade egg pasta dough is my favorite and it has only five ingredients. Nothing fancy or unfamiliar. Just stuff that you may have or that you can readily get at the grocery store. Or the corner store. Or wherever is closest.
You mix together the ingredients and then knead it until it’s smooth (I let my stand mixer handle the kneading). Then you wrap it up and let it sit and rest a bit. Next, you roll it. You can use the pasta attachments for this, but I just do it by hand because it’s easy. And simple. And fast. Working with one-quarter of the dough at a time, I use my trusty wooden rolling pin to get the dough super thin and then I run it through the pasta cutter. Easy as can be. But don’t worry if you don’t have a pasta cutter – you can also cut it by hand (use a pizza cutter for super easy cutting!).
All this work (really, it’s not a lot of work) has a big and worthy payoff. The pasta itself.
Nothing compares to fresh pasta like this. It’s truly a revelation. This Homemade Egg Pasta is rich, silky and so full of flavor that it really barely needs to be dressed. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan, salt and pepper is heavenly. A toss with sauteed garlic and olive oil is inspired. Dotted with sweet roasted veggies is something to write home about. But the fresh, homemade pasta is a star itself — not just a supporting character to a flavorful sauce. You’ll see. Nothing in a box compares.
I really hope you try this. The recipe is adapted heavily from Vegetarian Pasta Cookbook by Sarah Maxwell — one of the cookbooks I read on my bedroom floor as a teenager. And it’s even better than I ever imagined — and so much easier than I expected.
Come on, now. You can do this.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs. Stir just enough to combine.
Whisk together the olive oil and water. Drizzle into the flour mixture, stirring constantly.
Fit the dough hook onto the stand mixer and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into four portions. Working with one at a time, dust with flour and roll out into long, thin strips on a well-floured board or granite counter. Cut with a pasta cutter, as desired.
To cook: Drop the pasta into salted boiling water and boil for 3-5 minutes until al dente.