Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lasagna: Making the Pasta

Making homemade pasta is quite therapeutic. If you like to cook, you simply must try it.
The lasagna requires ultra thin layers of pasta, so while my grandmother used to roll it out with a rolling pin, I prefer to use a pasta roller. Kitchen Aid now makes a pasta attachment for their mixer but I still like my little table-top roller, which allows me to control the dough and get a little arm workout at the same time.
But before we start rolling it out, we need to actually make the dough.
Here goes:

3 cups of flour
2 large eggs
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp water

On a clean work surface, form a well with the flour. Crack the eggs into the well and add the salt. With one hand only crush the egg yolks and begin incorporating flour from the inner part of the well. ( this will prevent the egg from spilling out onto your work surface) Once the egg is incorporated with the flour use both hands to add the rest of the flour. Knead the dough together until you have a slightly dry ball. The dough should not stick to your hands at this point. If it is too dry, add the water and knead a bit more. Cover the ball with a large bowl and clean off your work station. Once clean, add a bit more flour to the surface so you can begin rolling out the dough.

Cut 1/8 of the dough off of the ball. Cover the rest with the bowl again. Squeeze dough in your hands to form an oval shape. Feed the oval in the pasta roller on setting one. If the pasta is too sticky dust with flour. Roll the pasta through settings 1-6. After setting six you should have a fairly long sheet of pasta. Cut this into smaller sheets, about 8 inches long. lay these on a floured surface, making sure that they do not touch each other. Repeat for all of the dough.

While rolling out the dough, bring a large stockpot full of water to boil. Add 2 tbsp salt and a glug of olive oil to the water.

Once the pasta has been rolled out add a few sheets to the boiling water. The pasta cooks very quickly ( about 2 minutes) and will float to the surface when done. Set a bowl of cold water in the sink and add the pasta to the water to stop the cooking process. Leave the pasta in the cold water until it is layered in the lasagna.

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