With the help of a few extra hands — gnocchi, fettuccini, tortellini and a wide variety of other pasta shapes are quick and easy to produce — and well worth the effort.
The basic ingredients are flour, eggs and water, but other things can be added for a hint of flavor, seasoning or color. Combine lemon juice, zest and pepper for lemon-pepper pasta, blend together eggs and a cooked beet to make a brilliant red pasta, add red wine to make the noodles lavender, cooked spinach for green or reconstituted dried mushrooms for brown. You can even try cocoa for a hint of chocolate.
Making the dough is quick and easy with a simple food processor recipe. Simply place your flour in the bowl. Turn on the machine and drizzle in a mixture of eggs and warm water. Within seconds the dough begins to clump and form into a ball At that point it needs a few minutes of hand-kneading on a floured surface until it is smooth, elastic and not sticky.
TYPES OF FLOUR
Different flour combinations also can be used to create various textures in the pastas. Create a 50-50 mix of all-purpose flour and semolina flour or all-purpose and whole wheat flour.
00 flour is an Italian flour designed for pasta and dough making. It can be purchased online or in Italian specialty markets.
After making your dough, cover with a damp towel and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes. The dough can be refrigerated for up to two days. Sprinkle with cornmeal, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before rolling out.
Many pasta shapes can be made with very few tools. Use a round biscuit cutter to shape into raviolis or tortellini, a gnocchi board or fork to make gnocchi, or the handle of a wooden spoon to make tube-shaped noodles.
To make fettuccini or the wider pappardelle, simply roll out your dough on a well-floured surface just as you would a pie crust. Let the dough dry slightly, and then begin rolling both sides up towards the middle. Slice to desired thickness with a sharp knife. Drape the strands across your hands and twist slightly into a nest onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Let the nests dry slightly then cook or refrigerate for up to two days. Sprinkle with a bit more cornmeal to alleviate sticking.
Small noodles can be dried completely and kept in the pantry for up to a month. Nests of pasta strands and stuffed pastas can be refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to a month.
What You Need: Pasta Party Supplies
Room Temperature Eggs
Cornmeal for dusting and rolling
Wax or Parchment Paper
1/4 inch wooden dowel or wooden spoon handle
Gnocchi board or fork
Food Processor Pasta Dough
1 3/4 cups flour
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons warm water
In a small bowl combine the whole eggs, egg yolk and water. Beat to combine. Place flour in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on the machine and slowly drizzle in the egg mixture. The dough will start to form small clumps and begin to form a large ball. At this point remove the dough from the processor and transfer to a floured work surface. Knead for three to five minutes until dough is smooth, elastic, but not sticky. Knead with more flour if sticky. If too dry, knead a few times with wet hands. Set dough aside in a small bowl and cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. If rolling out later, refrigerate for up to two days and bring to room temperature before rolling.
Flavor & Color Variations
Boil, cool, peel and roughly chop one medium beet. Prior to mixing dough place beet in food processor and blend with two room temperature eggs. Remove from processor and set aside. Continue with dough recipe but only use 1 1/2 cups flour. Omit the water and extra egg yolk.
Red Wine Pasta Dough
Combine 1 egg yolk and 2 egg whites with 1/4 cup red wine. Place 1 3/4 cup flour in food processor. Drizzle in the egg and wine mixture. May need more flour as this is a wetter dough, but it also depends on humidity. The dough will be a nice shade of lavender. (Water is omitted.)
Lemon Pepper Pasta Dough
Combine 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, zest and juice from one lemon and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Place 2 cups of flour in the food processor with 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Drizzle in the lemon-egg mixture. Continue with steps in dough recipe.
Spinach Pasta Dough
Cook six ounces of fresh baby spinach leaves in 1/2 cup water until wilted. Drain and shock the spinach in cold water to set the color. Squeeze out water and form into a small ball. Slice thinly and then turn and slice again in the opposite direction. Chop finely and process with two room eggs. Remove from processor and set aside. Continue with dough recipe but only use 1 1/2 cups flour. Omit the water and extra egg yolk.
2 1/2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, whole, raw, unpeeled
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (more or less depending on the moisture in your potatoes & humidity)
More flour for dusting
Marinara, diced mozzarella, parmesan & basil, for serving
Bake potatoes in a 375 degree oven for one hour to 90 minutes until fork tender. Let cool enough to handle. Cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Using a potato ricer, food mill or hand-held masher, mash the potatoes. (Do not use an electric mixer.) In a very large bowl add your flour and make a well. Add your potatoes and the egg to the center of the well. Using your hand mix together until the mixture begins to come together and form a dough. Press into a large ball and gently knead for about a minute. You want the dough to be dry and not sticky. If it is too crumbly knead with wet hands. Add more flour if necessary. Take the ball out of the bowl and place on a well floured surface. Roll the ball into the shape of a thick loaf. Cut off a thick slice and then cut in half again. Using your palms roll into a long 1 1/2 inch thick rod. Cut off 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces and set aside. Using a gnocchi board or the back of a fork roll the pieces across the grooves to create slight indentations on the gnocchi. Place separated (so they don't stick together) on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. At this point the gnocchi can be frozen or cooked. If freezing for later use, freeze on the tray for about two hours and then all of the gnocchi can be placed in a freezer bag together. To cook place in a pot of boiling salted water. Boil for about five minutes or a little longer if frozen. They will float to the top of the water when they are done. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish with some warm marinara. Stir in small chunks of mozzarella and grated parmesan. Toss gently until melted. Garnish with fresh basil and serve. Note: Potatoes can also be boiled whole until fork tender. Drain and leave in a colander to dry and cool. Peal and mash. More or less flour will be necessary depending on how you prepare the potatoes. Makes about 200 pieces of gnocchi. Gnocchi boards can be purchase locally at Sweet Gourmet in The French Quarter.