To start, think of a sand castle - with flour for the sand. Imagine a lake made of eggs and olive oil. So there you have it - if you can make a sand castle with a lake in the center, you can make fresh pasta. Any child can do it and so can you.
It is fun to create your own pasta dough. Besides, once in a while it's satisfying to have a bowl of fresh pasta. Making pasta happens to be a favorite among my students, so we are sure to do it at least once a season. The ingredient list is minimal and the work it entails for kids is pure amusement topped with gratification. Just the same as when they make sand castles.
PASTA DOUGH RECIPE
3 cups of flour (unbleached white all-purpose or 00) 3 eggs lightly beaten ¼ cup olive oil 1 teaspoon salt cornmeal for dusting In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Combine the eggs with the olive oil and pour them into the well.
Using a fork, mix the egg mixture as if creating a whirlpool. Gradually pull in a little flour at a time while mixing the egg mixture in a circular fashion. A wet dough will form.
Continue adding more flour from the surrounding "wall" until you are no longer able to incorporate more flour. Begin to use your hands to incorporate more of the remaining flour. Remove the dough from the bowl when it is no longer sticky. At this point, it should be soft and pliable. Working on a pastry board or mat knead in as much of the remaining dough is needed to form it into a semi-firm dough. It is not necessary to use all of the flour since you can always add more later.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested (I tell the kids it needs to take a nap), remove it from the wrap and knead it on a floured board for several minutes.
It will then be ready to be formed into the type of pasta you desire. We put the dough through a pasta machine to create sheets of pasta - starting with the thickness #1 and working through to thickness #4. If you do not have a machine, roll the dough into thin sheets using a rolling pin.
If using a machine - run the sheets through the flat noodle attachment, separate the strands and lay out on a flat surface dusted with cornmeal (or hang over a chair back covered with a flour dusted towel) until you are ready to cook them.
In order to make the noodles without a machine, roll the sheets into a loose log shape and cut across into rings. Unravel the rings immediately and separate the noodles as with the machine-cut dough above, until you are ready to cook them.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil over the noodles and season with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Add a generous grating of Parmesan cheese on top of the noodles before serving. The noodles will be chewy and hearty.
The fresh pasta is also a treat served with Sunday Tomato Sauce (or Gravy as some of friends say).