If you're really craving pasta, watching "Eat, Pray, Love" just isn't going to cut it. Neither will dinner at Olive Garden. Making pasta from scratch might sound intimidating, but take it from a novice chef: It isn't as difficult as it sounds.
Homemade pasta is considered superior to store-bought pasta for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is more authentic. In countries with direct ties to pasta culture, homemade noodles are the norm. Second, the taste of homemade pasta is simply better. Pasta made from scratch is fresh, substantive and bursting with flavor.
Although many foodies associate pasta with Italian cuisine (and we sure do love spaghetti), these much-loved carbs are also prevalent in other ethnic diets across the globe.
Asian countries are well-known for their love affair with noodles. Pasta consumption is prevalent in many Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. While there are many different types of Asian noodles, most are made from rice, buckwheat, wheat, egg or mung bean.
In addition to Italy, many other Mediterranean countries center their diets around pasta. In countries like Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, couscous - a semolina pasta - is the carb of choice.
Pasta is an exceptionally diverse food. In addition to coming in many shapes and sizes, it can be made from a variety of ingredients. Looking for a light, healthy noodle? Try whole wheat pasta. What if you're in the mood for a heavier, protein-packed dish? You'll probably want to go with egg noodles. Not sure? Go for something in between.
Egg pasta is a no-brainer in authentic Italian cuisine. These rich and delicious noodles will be sure to please your palate, and the recipe is very simple: The only ingredients required are all-purpose flour and eggs. You'll want to make sure to knead your dough for at least five to 10 minutes after the eggs and flour are thoroughly combined.
Water pasta is simple to make and significantly lighter than pastas made from fresh eggs. This option also pairs well with almost any sauce, but its thin texture is exceptionally conducive to sweet tomato sauces.
When cooking water pasta, you'll want to keep a few tips and tricks in mind. All-purpose flour and water will be the only ingredients in your noodles, so make sure you have a kitchen scale on hand to weigh out the proper amount of flour. You don't want to mess up the consistency of this simple dough! As is the case with most types of pasta, walnut-sized lumps should form in your pasta maker after a few minutes of kneading. This will signify that your water pasta is the proper ratio of flour to water.
Looking for a sneaky way to get greens into your kids' (or your own) diets? Spinach pasta combines the hearty, rich consistency of carbs with the nutritional density of leafy spinach. To make this pasta, you'll want to place both spinach and flour into your pasta maker. Allow the machine to run, and add eggs one at a time. This will ensure that the dough is properly combined.
Again, look for walnut-sized lumps after about 10 minutes of kneading. When those lumps are visible, you'll know that your dough has reached the desired consistency.
Semolina flour is famously the base of couscous, but it can be used to make other pasta shapes as well. We recommend using at least 25 percent all-purpose flour, and adding semolina to comprise the remaining 75 percent of the starch in your recipe. Semolina dough will be a bit more difficult to work with than other pasta doughs, mainly because it expands more than its more mainstream counterparts. Note that the first 20 inches or so of your dough will seem a bit ragged: This is the result of the semolina's rapid initial expansion. After that first 20 inches, your dough should be fully expanded and smooth.
On a health kick? Whole-wheat pasta is high in fiber, protein and carbohydrates, making it an energy-packed powerhouse of a pasta. To prepare these noodles, you'll just have to swap out all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. Feel free to follow any of the aforementioned recipes, but watch your dough's consistency carefully, as whole-wheat flour tends to be more dense than all-purpose flour.
You can feel free to get creative with your pasta making, but note that the most important part of the process is ensuring that your dough has the perfect ratio of flour to liquid. Whether you're using water or eggs for your pasta, you'll need a bit of patience: Working with flour isn't an exact science, and the best chefs know to use their eyes, tongues and fingertips to test dough.
You'll want to run all-purpose flour through your pasta maker on first use. After you've used your machine, feel free to experiment with all your favorite flours.
Oh, and it isn't possible to over-knead dough. Feel free to step out of the kitchen while your pasta maker is churning that delicious mixture.
Looking for some delicious pasta recipes? Visit CHEFScatalog.com recipe section for Pasta Recipes.
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