We're not ones to throw shade at convenient dried pasta. It is, in fact, the best choice for many pasta dishes, and is always in our pantries. However, homemade fresh pasta is a real treat and deserves to be showcased as often as you can handle it.
Read on for our easy recipe for fresh pasta, plus a creamy, dreamy alfredo sauce to serve it in.
If you've never made homemade pasta noodles, give it a try. There's no reason to be intimated by flour and eggs. A food processor and the attachments on a KitchenAid mixer make quick work of preparing the dough. And you'll need a rich, creamy alfredo-like sauce for those fresh noodles. Try this version and you may never purchase jarred sauce again.
From "Pasta" by the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library.
Makes: About 1 pound
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup for the board and a little extra for sprinkling
3 large eggs
Combine the flour and eggs in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times briefly to combine the ingredients. Then process, using long pulses, only until the dough forms a ball around the blade, about 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and knead with the palm of your hands as you would bread dough, pushing it against the board and turning it constantly, until it is smooth, elastic and not too soft, about 5 minutes.
Adjust the rollers on the pasta machine to its widest setting. Cut dough into six equal portions and lightly dust each portion with flour. Feed dough through the rollers, dust with flour, fold into thirds and roll through again, adjusting the roller width each time until you reach the desired thickness.
As each portion reaches the desired thickness, place on a clean dish towel and cover with another dish towel. Repeat until each piece is rolled.
Change the roller attachment to the cutting attachment and feed each sheet through the cutter, and then carefully place the noodles on a drying rack while you cut the remaining sheets.
(If you don't have a pasta roller, Cooks Illustrated provides an alternative: Shape the dough into a 6-inch cylinder, wrap in plastic, and let rest for at least 1 hour. Divide it into six equal pieces. Reserve one piece and rewrap the remaining five.
Working with the reserved piece, dust both sides with flour and press the cut side down into a 3-inch square. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 6-inch square; dust both sides with flour.
Roll the dough square into a rectangle, about 6 inches wide and 12 inches long. Make sure to roll from the center of the dough one way at a time, dusting with flour as needed. Continue rolling until the dough is 6 by 20 inches, lifting it frequently to release it from the counter. Transfer the dough to a kitchen towel and repeat with the remaining dough pieces. Let the dough rectangles dry for about 15 minutes.
Starting with the short ends, gently fold the dried sheets at 2-inch intervals to create flat, rectangular rolls. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into noodles that are a little less than 1/4 inch wide. Use your fingers to unfurl pasta, then transfer to a floured baking sheet.)
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Lightly salt the water and add pasta. Cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and serve immediately.
Creamy Parmesan Alfredo Sauce
As an alternative to the peas, substitute steamed chopped broccoli, carrots or asparagus.
Makes: Enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 cups green peas
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound cooked and drained fresh fettuccini noodles
In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add cream. Stir constantly and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low; add the peas and nutmeg and remove from the heat. Gently stir in Parmesan and add a few red pepper flakes, if desired.
Pour over freshly cooked fettuccini noodles. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan.