There are many reasons why my amazing Italian grandparents are the best in the world and tucked among those reasons is the generosity of my grandma in passing down my great-grandmother’s hand-cranked pasta machine. I’ve made homemade pasta a few times in the past and it’s really quite easy but definitely a little annoying and very time-consuming to roll it out and cut the sheets of dough by hand. This was my first time using the pasta machine and it was so fun and fast!
Since I was going old school style, I thought I would also go for a little more authenticity and use the classic pasta flour: semolina. There are three different types of flour: hard, soft and durum. Semolina is the unbleached ground durum wheat and it is a flour high in both protein and gluten so it stretches wonderfully.1 On my previous pasta attempts, I used just regular all-purpose flour and it turned out great but the semolina + pasta machine made for a finer strand of noodle that had a “mouth feel” more like boxed spaghetti. Step one is to combine the flour and salt.
Add a scant 1/4 cup of water and mix together with a fork until you get large clumps.
Add about one tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture.
Switch to your hands and work the dough for about fifteen minutes until you have a smooth, slightly stretchy ball of dough.
Cover with a damp towel for half an hour to let the gluten rest.
Run the dough through the flat side of the machine at least three or four times which is actually part of the kneading process.
Once the dough is about 1/16th of an inch thick, run it through the pasta roller to make the spaghetti strips.
Lay strips across hangers and create a pasta curtain! Let dry overnight and store in an airtight container. I couldn’t find a consensus about how long dried pasta keeps for, but since there aren’t any eggs in this recipe, I think it should keep for a couple of months in the cupboard or pantry (although in my house it’s unlikely it would go that long without being eaten!).
When cooking pasta, there is no such thing as too much water so fill a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook five to six minutes until al dente. In Italian al dente means “to the tooth” so you want your pasta barely firm to the bite. Just say no to limp noodles! While the water boils, dice your vegetables of choice. I used onion, garlic, and one half each of a red and yellow bell pepper.
Heat one half tablespoon of olive oil (garlic flavored if you have it!) over medium high heat. Add onion and cook a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add diced garlic, chopped bell peppers, basil and oregano. Cook five to seven minutes until peppers started to brown.
Remove skillet from heat, drain pasta and add noodles to pan. Toss to combine. Serve immediately. (I originally thought about drizzling with a little olive oil or lemon juice but it was perfectly seasoned by tossing it in the skillet so I nixed that step).
Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.
- 1 cup semolina flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ red bell pepper
- ½ yellow bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. Add ¼ cup of water and mix with fork until texture is that of coarse crumbs.
- Add ½ tablespoon of olive and continue to knead dough with hands about 15 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes.
- Using pasta machine, continue kneading by rolling dough through machine 3 to 4 times until dough is about 1/16th inch thick. Roll sheets of dough through attachment to make noodles.
- Hang noodles over hangers and allow to dry overnight.
- Once dried, store in airtight container in cupboard or pantry.
- Add 2 oz of dried pasta to large pot of boiling water and cook five to six minutes until al dente.
- Heat ½ tablespoon of olive in skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook two to three minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, peppers, and spices and cook six to eight minutes until peppers are just beginning to soften and brown.
- Remove skillet from heat, drain pasta and add noodles directly to pan. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.
-Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
Here’s a nice breakdown of the different types of flour from Cookery Online ↩