Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pasta Making Class

Last night Chrissy and I had an outing - a surprise outing. Her girlfriend set up a fun evening for us (months ago) and didn't tell us what we'd be doing, only that we should wear jeans and a t-shirt and we'd be fed. We waited in suspense for a very long time (not an easy feat) and a few days ago she emailed us with the address of the place and what time to be there - and gave us strict instructions not to Google the address. This was really hard for me, but I thought that the least I could do would be to obey her rules after she was so thoughtful to put this evening together.

Chrissy and I met at her condo and drove in the pouring rain to Somerville, MA. After parking we ran into the store that was labeled with the correct address - a specialized little shop with amazing wines, cheeses, chocolates and tons of ready-to-order, freshly made meals (so fresh that I saw one of the girls cranking out fresh fettuccine as a customer ordered it). I looked up at a chalkboard behind one of the registers and saw a listing of cooking classes and immediately was so excited. I'd been thinking that it may be some type of a cooking class, but hadn't wanted to suggest it to Chrissy in case I was wrong. We spoke to one of the cashiers and she confirmed that there was a pasta making class being held that night!

After washing our hands, we joined the group around a long table in the back kitchen. There were heaping bowls of bread, olives, cheese and salami for us to nibble on as we listened to Dave talk about making pasta and demonstrate for the group (I later learned that this was the Dave of Dave's Fresh Pasta - I'd missed the name of the store when we ran in). Dave of course made the dough kneading and rolling look much easier than it is (at least for my clumsy hands) but we couldn't wait to get started.

He gave us recipe for the pasta dough that we made, so I'll post that here, along with pictures of us following the corresponding steps.

Everyone getting started on their dough

Pasta all'Uova (yellow egg pasta dough)

  • 2 eggs
  • about 1 1/2 cups flour (duram and semolina)
  • pinch of salt
Suggestions for other ingredients (for colored of flavored pasta):
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • zest and juice of 1 whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley
*Additional ingredients work best if they have intense colors and/or intense flavors.

1. Pour flour and pinch of salt into your bowl, shape it into a mound, and scoop out the center to form a deep hollow.

2. Break the eggs into the center and beat gently with a fork for 1-2 minutes, as if you were going to make scrambled eggs. Begin to draw some of the flour from the edges, over the eggs, until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be very sticky, but you will soon be able to put the fork aside and continue to blend the dough with your hands (if you find the dough too sticky to work with you hands, add more flour and continue).

Eggs cracked into the deep hollow.
Making scrambled eggs.
Slowly start incorporating flour into the scrambled eggs.

In addition to the "plain" pasta dough, we also made tomato dough (using tomato paste):

A little bit of egg escaped the deep hollow...

3. Knead the dough with your hands for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth yet stiff. To properly knead the dough, use the heel of your hand and push against the dough, away from you. Fold the dough over and repeat.

Start using your hands to incorporate the flour.
Kneading the dough - I guess we didn't get the memo about using the heel of your hand.

Proper kneading is very important to the outcome of the pasta, so don't skimp on time! You should be able to see a real difference in the look of the dough when it is done. It should still be a bit sticky to the touch.

4. It is now time to let the dough rest. Return it to your bowl and cover with a clean, damp towel or wrap in plastic. Because you have developed the gluten in the flour, it now needs to rest for at least 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours) to relax the gluten. This will make the dough easier to work with when you begin rolling it out.

5. Unwrap the dough. It might feel a bit sticky, but do not add more flour. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough for a minute or 2. (Dave instructed us to cut the dough ball in half before flattening to make it more manageable).

6. Set the cylinders of your pasta roller at the largest opening. Roll out the dough on your work surface so that it is flat enough and the width will fit into the rollers of the pasta machine. Run it through the machine 2-3 times.

Close the opening on the rollers by one notch so that the opening is thinner. Repeat, continuing to roll a thinner dough as you close the cylinders of the pasta roller. Continue until you have the desired thickness. You now need to leave your pasta to dry for about 10 minutes. If your pasta begins to look dry at the edges, and have cracks, you have dried the dough for too long! (consider the weather: humid day, dry day)

Chrissy was a lot better at this than me.

  • If you are going to eat the past right now, drop it into a big pot of boiling, salted water, give it a stir and boil for just a  minute or two. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly! Really a minute or two at the most if it is fresh made.
  • Drain (do not rinse) and serve with sauce!
  • If you are not going to cook your homemade pasta right away, be sure that you dust it with flour and "fluff" it up so that the noodles don't stick to each other.
  • Fresh pasta is best eaten just after its been made, but will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator (and freezes well).

Outtakes from the evening and the fun we had:

Getting started on the dough:

Chrissy getting creative with some extra dough:

Making ravioli (same dough used but rolled thinner).  Ravioli fillings included ricotta cheese and spinach, portobello mushrooms and leeks, and butternut squash.

Lay the dough across the mold.
Fill raviolis and then brush beaten eggs on other side of dough before folding over.
Folded over then rolled with a rolling pin to seal.
Other side of mold.
Ravioli everywhere!

All of the pasta and ravioli Chrissy and I made :

After working hard for a couple hours on the pasta and ravioli, Dave took some of everyones and cooked us a feast while we relaxed and drank wine!

Cheers to a job well done!
One of several bottles Dave opened.
First (of many) servings of pasta.
No time to pose - I'm eating!
Some of the group.

At the end of the night, we got to take home all of the pasta that wasn't cooked (which was quite a bit). If Pat behaves himself today then he'll be enjoying a gourmet pasta dinner tonight!

Amazing store, amazing class, amazing food and wine, amazing company, and AMAZING SURPRISE! Thank you Shelley you're the best!! For anyone in the Somerville, MA area - I highly recommend checking out Dave's Fresh Pasta. Whether you just buy some wine and fresh pasta to treat yourself after a long day, or take a cooking or wine tasting class, I promise you will love it!


  1. What an amazing class! I have to look for something like this nearby. I've made some pasta before but never with the rolling machine. How fun :)

  2. this looks like so much fun. i've never taken any cooking classes but i know i'd love it. you guys look so cute!

  3. these photos are great. i would love to take a class like that. was it hard to figure out the machines?

  4. the machines were super easy! emily was just exhausted/famished and couldn't handle them. haha just kidding- she was a pro!

  5. That is the freakin coolest night ever!! I'm totally jealous! How can I find one!? And you look adorable doing it!!!

  6. Awesome post! I recently saw a video on the NY Times web site about making homemade pasta and I've been wanting to try it ever since!

  7. I want to try making homemade pasta! The kneading part and the mixing part intimidates me.

  8. How fun! I really need to get a pasta cutter thingy. I make my own pasta, but without a cutter I have to do it by hand and it just looks awful. I love the little tortellini maker, how brilliant! What a great activity!

    - Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit

  9. Ahhhhh this looks like it was so fun! Thanks for sharing all your photos. I really want to try making beet pasta soon. I love the gorgeous purple color!