Making pasta with a machine – fun!

October 7, 2010 in Ad free, Food Porn, product, review

pasta-450

Thanks to the generosity of the CSN Stores, their site Cookware.com and their great social media outreach people I have been given an opportunity to review several kitchen tools that are basic but, in my mind, are “good things to have.”

The one I am going to share with you today is a piece of technology that can be enabling for even the most novice of cooks – a pasta maker.

This one, a CucinaPro Imperia, is a step up from the most basic in that it can be attached to a motor as well as a variety of pasta cutting accessories. I am reviewing it without the motor and I find that using it without a motor is not at all difficult (as some might suggest if you look around on the web).

I have written about making pasta before:

In each of those cases (and the many many times I have made pasta without blogging about it) I rolled the pasta dough out by hand and also cut it by hand.

There is a qualitative difference in process between making it by hand (the way I did it anyways) and by pasta machine.

I minimized the amount of folding and kneading of the dough to the very minimum because I am generally the sort to do just that (my hands only have so much strength).

This leads to a heavier thicker dough and also same with the finished pasta.

When you use the pasta maker, as I describe below, you get a much more homogenous pliable dough and you can get thinner pasta strands (if you wish).

These both have their good points. Hand rolled and cut is thicker and “meatier” with more “dente” to it while the pasta machine gives a more standard pasta experience.

The biggest advantage to making your own pasta is that you have 100% control over the quality of the basic ingredients and also, somehow even if made with bargain ingredients, it always tastes more delicious – much more savory and bursting with flavor.

When it comes to pasta – fresh is best!

Spinach Basil Pasta (1 pound)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cooked spinach greens, well drained and squeezed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Puree the spinach in a blender VERY WELL – you want to molecularize the spinach as much as you can (I use my Vita Mix).

Add the two eggs, oil, and water and mix well.

In a bowl or in a stand mixer, add liquids to the flour and mix until you have a dough.

Wrap with plastic and allow to rest 30 minutes or longer. Overnight is good. You can also freeze it down at this point! To thaw take out in the AM, put in the fridge, will likely be ready for you to shape by evening. I found that my thawed dough was simply fantastic because it had time to meld and hydrate well.

Once the dough has melded/rested, its time to either roll out and cut or to begin to use your pasta maker.

Pasta Maker Review: spinach basil pasta resting

You have to run the dough through the machine to condition it before you make your final sheets and then final pasta shape.

First you make a log of a part of your dough, run it through, fold into thirds, rotate so that its 90 degrees from the direction you fed it in previously. Roll through. Repeat with the folding and turning.

Do this 6-7 times or until the dough takes on a very even pliable consistency – a bit of practice will get you there.

Pasta Maker Review: rolling out

Now you begin to thin out your dough. You will no longer fold your sheet in third but run it through with successively thinner settings on the adjusting button on the side. If you are making ravioli, go for thin. If you are making other types of pasta like fettucini then do not let the sheet get too thin – its again a matter of practice for you.

Pasta Maker Review: rolling out

Once its a thickness you like/need, you can run it through the detachable pasta cutting accessory to get your finished product!

Pasta Maker Review: fresh spinach fettucini

Pasta Maker Review: fresh spinach fettucini

(I rolled this pasta sheet a bit too thin for fettucini)

Pasta Maker Review: fresh spinach fettucini

You can now hang it all up to dry a bit and then use immediately (cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, depending on your tastes), dry it more for later, or freeze it down for later.

I wanted to test out my new FoodSaver vacuum system that I bought because we have a new freezer (we bought it from Sears – its awesome).

Pasta Maker Review: vacuum sealer - LOVE it

I learned one big lesson – do NOT vacuum pack fresh raw pasta – you will get this:

Pasta Maker Review: FAIL!

It mushes your fresh pasta back into dough.

The solution is to freeze it FIRST and then vacuum seal it and then put it back in the freezer.

Pasta Maker review

Product Details:

  • 6in wide roller
  • Includes double cutter for spaghetti and fettuccine
  • Optional motor and attachments