Making pasta noodles is one of my favorite kitchen activities with Vivi and her sister Sydney. To a 3 year old, the ball of dough is just like playdough that one gets to cook and eat! But to me, the entire process from beating the eggs, to adding the right type of flour, the herbs and then kneading and rolling out the dough, is a timeless process that had been repeated in kitchens around the world between mothers and daughters. Sure, it is a lot faster of a process without a 3 year old’s “help”. But then it’s just making pasta. When I let Vivi take the lead, it’s about making memories, teaching lessons and reminding myself about what matters in life. I love teaching my daughter how to knead dough and watching her put her own spin on it. Normally we roll our pasta dough out with a rolling pin or a wine bottle, but my soon to be mother inlaw bought me an Italian pasta roller for Christmas, so Vivi and I decided to give it a try. I had already used the roller for lasagna and for rolling out cracker dough, but hadn’t tried the linguini noodle setting yet. I love the process of rolling out my own pasta dough, heck, I even will be teaching a class at Kirkwood this spring on it, but when my business keeps me in the kitchen all day working on recipe development, time saving gadgets like a pasta roller can be very useful!
The best thing about making your own pasta isn’t the superior taste and nutritional aspect, or the fact that you will save money. It’s the fact that it is easy! You don’t have to be a trained cook, foodie or kitchen expert to make pasta with your kids or by yourself. In fact Vivi did every step with just a little help from me. And if you are still intimidated and would like me to come over and teach you how or have a pasta cooking party with your friends then feel free to contact me! And you know those expensive colored fancy pastas you see in the store? You can easily recreate those in your own kitchen. My daughter is 3. She is a classic lover of the color pink. With that in mind, beet powder is always on hand to color yogurt, noodles and other things pink. I like to throw in parsley as well to give a speckled look. Just about any and all colors can be created using vegetables and fruits. Please never use artificial food coloring in your cooking. This link is to an article on NPR from 2011. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/30/134962888/fda-probes-link-between-food-dyes-kids-behavior
Back to pasta. I like to keep my cooking simple and pasta is as simple as it comes. I use eggs, salt and flour. My flour type varies depending on what time of noodle I am making. Today I used 100% durum wheat which is high in protein and low in gluten. Durum wheat is not the best choice for bread making because of the low gluten content but makes amazing pasta. I prefer to use beet powder vs beet juice since I don’t have to worry about adjusting the moisture content and it isn’t as messy. Beet juice stains everything it touches. Let thee be warned.
When Vivi is in charge of making the pasta I don’t use the classic technique of building a well with the flour on the counter and mix in the eggs that way. Yes, it is may be more traditional and I am all about traditional, but I am also about keeping messes contained when I have 7 more hours of kitchen time ahead of me. I like to start with the eggs and add the flour as it seems like the amount of flour needed varies each time I make pasta (which is quite often) so instead of added more eggs, I start with the eggs and add in the flour until I get the right consistency.
There are a few different ways to color your pasta. You can add the powder or herbs to the flour, the eggs, or to the dough as you knead or roll it out. Today we added it to the eggs. I don’t measure the beet powder or herbs, we were running low on beet powder so I went light on it and heavier on the parsley.
I added the flour while Vivi stirred. As soon as it becomes too difficult to mix with a fork, start using your fingers to combine the flour and egg mixture. Once a dough starts to form, transfer to the counter and start kneading while adding more flour as needed.
Kneading dough is a priceless skill to learn and then teach your children. Vivi has been working on her kneading technique for about 6 months now and she has learned to check her ball of dough for cracks and then keep kneading until it is smooth. It is amazing to watch her focus on pressing out with the heel of her hand, fold the dough over, turn and repeat. You are never too young or old to learn how to knead dough!
What kid doesn’t love a machine like a pasta roller?! Vivi was able to separate the dough, roll it and slice it with very little help. When you have limited counter space, this roller is very nice to have around!
Add the noodles to salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, drain and serve! We made a white cream sauce with mozzarella, parmesan and parsley.
Vivi's Pink Pasta
- 2 jumbo eggs or 2 large eggs, just use less flour
- 1 tsp salt
- durum wheat flour 1-2 cups
- Chopped parsley optional
- beet powder optional
- Beat the eggs and salt in a bowl
- slowly add flour until you can no longer mix well with the fork
- transfer to a floured counter and continue to add flour and mix with your fingers until it forms a ball.
- Knead anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on how much time you have. General rule is that you want very few, if any, cracks that form when the dough is in a ball.
- Cover and let sit for 10-20 minutes. If you are in a rush, then you can just immediately roll and cut the pasta. Your pasta will turn out better the longer you knead and let it rest, but if you aren't trying to impress anyone than feel free to take shortcuts!
- Roll out the dough either by hand or in a pasta roller. Cut the dough and boil for ~3 minutes. Drain and serve.
- I teach classes/lessons on hand rolling and cutting pasta and will post about it later this month.