Noodle Goodness

Pasta comes in so many variations that it’s hard to choose… unless you make your own. Fresh noodles can be made with few ingredients, maybe 30 minutes of time but only 10 minutes of labour, even without fancy equipment; it took longer to write this up than it does to make. There are other recipes that have other ingredients, but I opt for simple and easy, because that’s the way I roll. 🙂

Egg pasta has extra protein and is more forgiving in both working and cooking. Egg-less pasta makes a firmer dough. The recipes that follow will feed one or two people, and can be doubled; you can make more at once, but it will be more challenging to work.

Egg Pasta

1 large egg per person
1/2 cup all-purpose flour per person (semolina or bread flour will make a firmer dough with higher protein), plus some for rolling out
up to 1/4 teaspoon of salt (I add just a pinch)

Egg-free Pasta

2 T + 2 t warm water
1 t oil (organic olive oil is best)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour per person (semolina or bread flour will make a firmer dough with higher protein), plus some for rolling out
up to 1/4 teaspoon of salt (I add just a pinch)

method for both recipes:
On a clean countertop (or in a bowl, if you prefer), make a volcano shape of your flour and salt.

Egg pasta: In the well of the center, break your egg (no shell, please), and quickly break the yolk with your fingers; if you prefer instead, break the egg into a small bowl and give it a quick whip with a fork to break up the yolk and roughly blend it with the white, and then pour it into the well of your flour volcano.

Egg-free pasta: In the well of the center, mix the water and oil in the well of your flour volcano.

Gently pull the flour into the liquid, keeping a wee fence of flour until the threat of running over the counter is gone. The dough will likely become sticky and shaggy, according the the humidity of the air and the moisture content of the flour.

Knead until smooth and a bit resilient like your earlobe; it takes around ten minutes, give or take. The countertop is the best place to knead dough, so if you started in a bowl, get that counter clean, sprinkle with flour, and turn your shaggy dough onto the counter. Sprinkle a little flour over and under your dough as you knead, just enough to keep it from gluing to your hand and counter; a little tacky is OK. Knead by pressing down on the down with the heel of your hand to flatten it, then use your fingers to pull the top edge back and fold it for the next press; repeat. I turn the dough as I go, and add a little of my body weight to help with the kneading. You’re done when the dough ball is smooth and elastic.

Important: Let it rest now! I usually drop an upside-down bowl over it on the counter; others cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. The important parts are: let it rest for around half an hour (put it in the fridge if you do this overnight), and keep it from drying out during the rest.

After resting the dough, roll it out as thinly as possible (or according to your preferred result). There are a variety of rolling pins available; if you don’t have one, use a 750ml wine bottle or other round bottle of similar size. Put a sprinkle of flour on the counter and on the rolling pin, just barely enough to keep the dough intact. If you increase the size of the recipe, cut the dough into smaller amounts for ease of working. Gently roll out the dough, working from the center outwards, shifting the dough and flipping as you go, adding only enough flour to allow this to happen.

Cut the rolled out dough as you desire. I use a pizza cutter (dollar store!) to cut it into lozenges or wide noodles; I roll the dough up like a jelly roll and use a sharp, floured paring knife to slice narrow noodles. Toss the pasta with a bit of flour, as needed.

At this point, you can dry the noodles, spread out over clean sheets to dry for a few days, or draped over a clean dowel; package in air-tight containers for later use.

Otherwise, I let the noodles sit while I prepare for the rest of the meal.

To cook, bring a good-sized pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil, and toss in the noodles. When they float, they are done. Fresh noodles take around 2 minutes to cook, and dried ones a couple of minutes longer. Ideally, pasta should be a wee bit chewy.

For soup, make the soup without the noodles, cook the noodles separately, and combine both at the table for best flavor and texture. (See my recipe for chicken broth!)

For a treat that only fresh noodles can give you, layer the cooked pasta with some quality grated cheese and 5-spice powder (or poudre douce as suggested by Lizzie Cook), with a drizzle of melted butter. Mmm… Heavenly!

It’s all that easy.



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