I always feel like November kicks off seriously good food time of year, what with Thanksgiving just around the corner and then the full on holiday season. Growing up, food was always an important element of our home life – making good food, eating good food, talking about eating good food… Despite the many changes throughout the years, one thing has remained steadfast in my parents’ home, and that is Pasta Sunday. Some of my favorite memories as a child, and as an adult honestly, are of making pasta with my parents. Cooking with my kids has been one of my favorite things about parenting so far. And yes, it is 100% messier and slower with four tiny hands involved, but they really enjoy it, which I really love. I’m also hoping that someday it comes full circle and they cook for me
Recently, we had a chance to do a true Pasta Sunday with my parents and the girls for the first time. We started simple and made pappardelle but it was an awesome family activity that everyone loved and certainly made for some great memories (and pictures!). Although Dad had to deal with some C list pasta shapes, it definitely went better than expected and since then we’ve even been bold enough to make tortellini (which as it turns out, Scout is awesome at!)!
So here’s the overview of dad’s recipe and instructions as (mostly) followed by us.
2 cups all purpose flour – although for a lighter dough/better texture, which dad prefers, you can substitute 1 cup of semolina flour for regular flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 cup water
Dad likes to mix the dough directly in the food processor, but we don’t have one, so we just used the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook, which works great too. Once a ball of dough is formed, stop the mixer (or food processor) and cover the dough with a cloth, letting it rest for 20 minutes. At this point if the dough feels wet, add a little flour, but if it’s too dry, add a splash of water.
After the dough has woken up from its power nap, you start rolling it out. Apparently the old Italian mammas did/do this with a rolling pin, which is bananas. I tried it once and the result was an unfortunate belly bomb. Which is why we now use the kitchen aid attachment or those pasta machine roller/cutters that you attach to the counter. Before the dough ball is ready to make its debut in the roller though, it has to lose…like a couple of inches. So we cut the dough ball in half and thin it out a little by hand.
Once the dough is thin enough that you can send it through the roller, you start at the roller’s thickest setting (1), and keep sending the dough through until you get to the 4 or 5 setting.
Once the dough is pasta noodle thin, you can do whatever you want with it really – cut it up as pappardelle, send it through the cutting attachment to make fettucine, or fill it and cut it into shapes like tortellini or ravioli.
To store it until you are ready to cook it, place a thin kitchen towel (like a flour sack towel) on a flat cooking sheet and sprinkle it with flour before you lay the pasta on. We usually don’t let it sit for more than about ½ an hour before we make it (that way it doesn’t get too hard, etc).
When cooking the pasta, it’s best to cook it in shifts because it’s so thin and delicate that it only takes about 3 minutes or so to cook. So if you cook it all at once, the pasta on the bottom gets overdone and is gushy. The awesome thing about pasta is that you can top it with almost anything – our go to is red sauce with meatballs, and our munchkins were definitely all about that life…they gobbled up this meal in about 10 minutes, which is definitely a toddler world record!