Homemade Pasta

Although in many ways I am a sucker for the latest kitchen gadgets and there are some modern appliances I couldn’t do without, the love I have for vintage items often flows into the kitchen and I periodically find myself in antique stores gawking at old Pyrex. You may have noticed vintage Pyrex and Fire King items in my photos. I was in one of my favorite local antique stores on Saturday when I came across some interesting – and inexpensive – utensils that I decided to snatch up. The first one I realized I needed was some sort of rolling pasta cutter:

I have the Kitchen Aid pasta roller and cutter attachments for my mixer, which, the former at least, I actually use on a fairly regular basis, but this little number intrigued me anyway because I’ve never seen one, and I do occasionally cut pasta by hand.

Then I decided to buy a few of its matching buddies:

The item on the right is a crimper. The one on the left is a batter beater, and the one in the middle is, of course, a potato masher. I have a modern potato masher, but I’ve never liked it. It’s Teflon or some sort of nonsense. I mostly use it for smooshing the okara bag when I make soy milk and it feels extremely dissatisfying. On the rare opportunities I’ve used it for mashed potatoes (I usually use the potato ricer for that), it just gets a lot of gunk in it that’s not easy to get out. I used the “new” masher to make soy milk last night and it felt MUCH nicer. This is a nice, quality potato masher and that’s why I love old stuff and distrust most new stuff.

So anyway, despite the fact that I’m pretty tired and also embarrassingly sore after an unexpectedly long and somewhat terrifying hike on Sunday, I was so excited to try out my new pasta cutter toy that I decided to make homemade pasta for dinner. It’s really not that hard or time consuming. I just used a recipe in Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, so the pasta part of this is not my own recipe. As for The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, honestly, after buying this book I don’t think I like Peter Berley much as a person. There are a few comments in the book I found off-putting. I sort of pre-judged him based on his photo on the back cover, which I realize is a horrible thing to do, but I thought he looked a little mean and arrogant. But I reprimanded myself for being judgmental and went into the book with great hopes. And in fact, I’ve really liked nearly everything I’ve made from this book, however, as I said, Berley makes a few comments, some about veganism and some just in general, that made me dislike him. And sort of glad I bought the book used. But I am glad I bought the book because it contains some good ideas. When I first made the following recipe for chickpea flour pasta it was the first time my homemade pasta didn’t come out as overly mushy as my previous attempts had been. One nice thing I can say about Berley is he’s very much into interacting with his food, by which I mean he doesn’t employ many gadgets because he feels they remove you from the tactile experience of touching the food. That’s a concept I like, although I’m actually somewhat addicted to certain appliances, including my mixer for kneading dough. But the good news is I’m actually giving you a recipe that doesn’t require any special accoutrements!

Chickpea Flour Pasta
From Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

3/4 cup chickpea flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached white all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons Rosemary-Garlic oil (recipe follows) (Renae’s note: or substitute olive oil)
semolina flour for dusting

In a bowl, mix the flours and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the water and oil.

(It looks a bit like the egg you’d likely be using for non-vegan pasta, eh?)

With a wooden spoon or dough whisk, stir to bring ingredients together.

It’s easiest to finish mixing it with your hands. All you want to do is make sure the flour is almost completely hydrated. Some dry parts are okay. You can add a tiny amount of water at a time if it is so dry you can’t get it to form a rough ball, but it should be pretty dry:

Cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. Berley then advises 10 minutes vigorous kneading by hand, but I stick it in my mixer with the dough hook for 6 minutes instead. It will become much smoother and somewhat softer (although not as soft as most bread doughs).

Stick it in a plastic Ziploc-type bag and let it rest for 30 minutes. (I usually try to come up with alternatives when recipes direct me to use plastic, but I didn’t want it to dry out and I re-use Ziploc bags, so this wasn’t wasteful. You could also toss it in a container in which is just fits.)

After resting, the dough will be much more pliable. I’m not sure if you can really see a difference in the photos, but it’s even a bit glossier:

Divide it into two equal parts and roll each half out to a thickness of 1/16″ inch (1 or 2 mm):

I’m not that handy with a rolling pin, if you want to know the truth, so half the time I just run it through my pasta roller on the first setting. But I wanted to leave it low-tech in keeping with my vintage cutting tool.

Let the rolled-out pieces sit, without covering, for 5 to 7 minutes to dry out a little. (In the meantime, I chopped up some broccoli and tossed it with some pressed garlic, sea salt, and olive oil, baked it in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes then tossed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest.)

Berley’s next instruction is to sprinkle each piece of dough with semolina, roll it up into a “loose cylinder”, then cut the cylinder crosswise into 1/4″ wide strips. Then unfurl the cylinder and separate the noodles. I, of course, instead just rolled my new toy down each piece:

I found it easier to sprinkle some semolina onto my workspace under the dough as well as on top of the dough, as well. You want to use plenty of semolina so it doesn’t stick.

Here are my nice uniform noodles:

Cook in boiling water until done. Berley recommends 3-4 minutes, however, I have found that one minute is sufficient. I’m paranoid about my homemade pasta being mushy because it’s ended up that way too many times. Then drain and if you like, toss with a small amount of Berley’s Rosemary-Garlic oil.

Rosemary-Garlic Oil
from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 small springs fresh rosemary

In saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, garlic, and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the garlic turns light gold. Do not let the garlic brown or the oil will turn bitter. Strain the oil into a clean glass jar and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Note: the garlic bread I made when I burned a baguette was made using a paste made from these rosemary-y garlic cloves: so don’t throw them away, smear them on something and eat them!

What to do with your homemade pasta? Anything you’d like, but here’s what I did tonight.

Renae’s Pasta Dish

This is my go-to dish when it’s late and I need to make a quick dinner for guests (although Mark and I eat it a lot on our own, too). It’s very easy and I always have the ingredients, but it tastes a bit more elegant than some of the stuff I make for just the two of us when I don’t feel like cooking.

I don’t measure anything, and I switch up the ingredients to match items I may have on hand. But at it’s most basic it looks like this:

1 shallot or 1/2 onion, diced
many cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2-4 Tbsp capers: these are a must as Mark never fails to announce, “I don’t know what those tiny little green things are but they are awesome!”, to which I respond, “They are capers and you just like them because they are salty.” and then he says, proudly, “Yup!”
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes: I usually use the kind not packed in oil because I use enough oil in frying the onions
chopped olives, if you have good ones on hand. I often don’t (and Mark and I are in disagreement about which are better, black or green olives), but when I do, I throw them in. Although I like cheap canned olives for some purposes, this dish is not one of them. It’s good olives or none.
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (the can in the picture is bigger than what I usually use and I only used half of it)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
flaked sea salt, to taste (watch it if you use a lot of other salty things)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes (or to taste)
pinch of oregano
2 cubes frozen basil, or fresh basil (as much as you can get your hands on)

In a wok or large pan heat some olive oil, then add the onions and fry for 5 minutes or until beginning to turn brown:

Add the garlic and capers and fry for 2 minutes:

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and olives if using and fry for another 2 minutes:

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are beginning to break down:

Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and chili flakes. If using fresh basil, add just a minute before serving.

Toss in the cooked pasta. This can be the homemade pasta above, or for quick meals, any dried pasta shape you like.

The final meal:

Didn’t take nearly as long as you’d think considering the pasta was homemade. Tigger sat on the chair next to me while I ate:

… until he climbed up on the table and tried to knock over the vase of roses that Mark gave me yesterday (for no reason, isn’t he great?!) in order to get the water out. He was successful at this maneuver last night but I was too fast for him tonight. To retaliate for unfairly preventing him from messing up my roses and drinking day-old dirty rose water, he licked my pasta:

I can’t win with him. But I DO win at the antique and thrift stores where I am always making fabulous finds. I also scored a Secret Hearts Ken for my friend’s birthday. Now, THAT was a true thrifting success story. You freeze heart-shaped ice cubes (ice cube tray included!) and then rub them on Ken’s cummerbund “and other parts” and secret, magic hearts appear. How awesome is that?


  1. Mark Said,

    August 13, 2008 @ 11:52 am

    This dish is way too technical for me. Tools, devices, all the simple machines that we learned about in 4th grade.

    What’s next? Genetically enhanced tofu?

  2. renae Said,

    August 13, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

    Well, a lot of commercial soy products ARE made from genetically modified soybeans. Fortunately for you, I make our tofu from non-GMO soy beans.

  3. Jennifer Said,

    August 13, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

    Oh, wow! I am so impressed! You’ve made making pasta seem so easy (somehow I don’t think I could pull it off as easy as you did!).

    Great post – thanks for sharing!

  4. Cindy Said,

    August 14, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

    Yeah, that was a good post. I want to make fresh pasta, but I dont feel confident in keeping it cat hair free.

  5. Mark Said,

    August 14, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

    @Cindy We’re used to eating cat hair. It’s full of nutrients!

  6. Cindy Said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 10:01 am

    If I have to eat hair, I do prefer the cat variety.

  7. Becka Said,

    September 8, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try making my own pasta for awhile now, but have always been a little scared and had no rolling pin (who doesn’t have a rolling pin??) or any other fancy gadgets. Now, I think I am ready. Thanks!

  8. Lukas Said,

    March 11, 2010 @ 8:49 am

    Hi, thanks so much for this great post! I am planning to make this but I have two questions, because I’ve never made pasta before… How far in advance can the pasta be made–and if you’re keeping it in the fridge for a few hours before serving, would you cover it with a damp tea towel, or just keep it in an airtight container? Also, do you think this is a versatile pasta that would go with a different, non-tomato-based sauce? I kind of want to try the creme-fraishe & fresh herb sauce that is in the following recipe in the book. It _seems_ like it should be OK!

  9. Val Edwards Said,

    February 22, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    Hi Renae, Well done you – finding a new use for a herb-cutting roller (the first vintage kitchen gadget shown above.). I still have my mother’s cutter (50 yrs old)- with which I learned to chop herbs for mint sauce and pasta dressings. I would never have thought of using it for home-made pasta. These are still available, but in plastic rather than metal, as NO-one made pasta at home 50 yrs ago ( except Italians.) . I also have the item on the right (crimper) but that was originally sold to be used to cut potatoes into fries – the crimped ones were said to cook more rapidly and, as kids, we couldn’t figure how Mum made curly fries that would hold more ketchup !!. It’s great how new generations make new uses of gadgets – I must cut pasta with the heb utter – our pasta machine drives me MENTAL!!!!

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