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Nov 13, 2007 07:00 AM

Pasta from scratch for the home cook

This morning I was reading the Oct issue of BA, and read the article about making pasta from scratch. I would love to try this and learn something new, but am a little leary about spending money for a pasta roller (like the looks of the attachment for my kitchen aid mixer) and investing an entire day to make the dough, let it rise, roll it, cut it, rest it, and finally cook it. Is the investment in equipment and time worth it for the home cook? Do any other chowhounders who cook for their families do this?

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  1. I went to an all day pasta class at Whole Foods last Saturday. We learned how to make fresh pasta and some sauces. Honestly, I didn't think the pasta was any better than a good boxed brand. It was fun, but it just wasn't worth the effort to me. I'd do it if I were going to make a big batch of ravioli or lasagne so I could have the sheets of pasta, but for spagetti, linguine, etc, I wouldn't do it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: GenieinTX

      That has not been my experience......this pasta usually is made with the texture and flavor is very different from dried flour and water pasta..
      for example in "Lidia's Family Table" she has recipes from "Poor Man's 2 Egg Pasta' to "Rich Man's Golden Pasta" which uses 9 egg yolks (and ofcourse "Middle Class Not Quite Golden Pasta" which uses 3 whole eggs and one egg yolk)..just use a light sauce to enhance the pasta and don't drown it in a heavy tomato sauce. Other pastas use different grains and flours, giving a completely different culinary experience...these include Whole Wheat, Buckwheat, Semolina, Flaxseed, Cornmeal/Polenta Pasta, Barley flour, Chickpea flour, Chestnut flour pasta, Potato get the idea.....I like the pasta attachment on my Kitchenaid. But pasta can be made using a plain rolling pin as well...Try it...if you find out you really like your results you can then make an investment in a pasta roller.

      1. re: ChowFun_derek

        This recipe was 2 and 1/2 c all purpose flour and four eggs. I thought the pasta had no flavor to it, and the recipe may be why. Thank goodness my experience was abnormal. I couldn't figure out what the fuss was about with homemade pasta. I'll try with some other recipes. I really had fun doing it.

    2. I have an excellent cookbook named The Pasta Bible, that shows you how to make all kinds of pasta, with or without machines. It covers noodle, gnocchi, spaetzle, potato dumplings, and on and on. I wouldn't go to the expensive of buying a pasta machine until you see how easy it is to do without one. Here is a review of it:

      I think homemade is so much better, IMO, but I was raised with a grandma that, when she was in town, made us all of the above, by hand. And I got to help!

      4 Replies
      1. re: danhole

        The difference between homemade pasta and storebought noodles for lasagne is like night and day. And there's no need for pasta dough to rise. I use Marcella Hazan's recipe and do it all the same day. I must say, though, I wouldn't bother if I didn't have the KA rolling attachment. Even though I'm pretty dough savvy and have no qualms about rolling, I would think that hand rolling and cutting lasagne noodles would put it in the "don't feel like bothering" category for me.

        1. re: JoanN

          Ditto everything you just said. I know it's snotty, but I don't think I could live without my Kitchenaid now!

        2. re: danhole

          So what's the difference between a pasta and a noodle? Or is noodle a type of pasta? I've been making the pasta recipes from Lidia's book, but last night needed a noodle for chicken soup. I turned to the Joy of Cooking (my starting place for everything), and could only see that butter was used instead of olive oil. Is it a colloquialism? Pasta is Italian, noodle is Euro-American? These are just the things I think about.

        3. Don't know what pasta recipes you were looking at that require an entire day. Typical fresh pasta is quick and easy. Just mix together flour, water, egg, and salt, knead for a few minutes, and run the dough through the machine.

          As to the machine, consider a basic Italian hand-cranked model. IMHO, the KitchenAid attachment is an overpriced piece of junk. The drivetrain contains cheap plastic parts that break easily cannot be replaced. I was lucky--mine broke shortly after purchase and the retailer accepted it as a return. Otherwise, it would have been $150 down the toilet.

          A real pasta machine costs about 1/3 as much as the KA attachment (less if you can find a good sale). Yes, you have to turn the crank by hand. And so will your grandchildren when they inherit the machine. Mine's an Imperia. Atlas and Altea also get good reviews.

          7 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            I'm shocked you had problems with your KA pasta rolling attachment. Mine must be a dozen years old, used on average once a month, and still working perfectly. I wonder if, as with so many other appliances, the older ones were better made.

            1. re: JoanN

              My experience with the KA pasta rolling attachment has also been wonderful, but mine is also at least a dozen years old (probably closer to 20 years). They probably shifted to a less expensive material to make the parts, which has resulted in an inferior product.

              BTW. I think making pasta is a fun way to spend a few hours and is a great family activity.

              1. re: Springhaze2

                Mine is only two years old, and we have had great luck with it so far. But, then again, my KA itself is only about 4 or so years old and I haven't had the problems with it that everyone talks about either.

                1. re: Springhaze2

                  The older KA attachments were in many ways superior to the new versions - it's worth looking for these in antiques malls and flea markets, since they've never changed the dimensions of the mounting area. This means that not only can I use the 1930s meat-grinder attachment on my 1950s KA mixer, but I can use both my '80s sausage stuffer and brand-new grinder disks as well! That old grinder, unlike the new ones, has a heavy metal body, which I trust a lot more than I do the current plastic ones.

                2. re: JoanN

                  If you've used yours a hundred times or more without incident, I'd be willing to bet that there's been a design change. At least as far as the newer KA rollers go, the problem I experienced is apparently fairly common. (Reminder to self: next time, do internet research before pulling out credit card.)

                  The thing that really drove me nuts was when KA customer service told me that they don't sell replacements for the sacrificial part. The $150 attachment is rendered worthless when this <$1 part fails.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Although my KA rollers have indeed been used at least a hundred times, I had exactly the experience you describe (in fact, just yesterday) when I was making my Kabocha squash soup for Thanksgiving. The coupling mechanism on my not very old KA blender burned out. As you say, machine rendered worthless when a <$1 part fails. And what's even more frustrating, you can buy the part online, but KA won't tell you how to replace it. I feel your pain.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      At least the part is available. (Here are installation instructions: .) When I ruined the clutch on my KA blender a few years ago, I was told that the model--and its parts--had been discontinued, and offered a generous discount on a new KA blender. I declined, and am now the proud owner of a Waring, which carries a full line of parts for every blender they ever made.

                      That's why I like the Italian pasta makers; they're not designed to be disposable. And anybody who wants to slap a motor on one can do so for under $100. Sure, the machine takes up more space than a KA attachment, but it also makes a full 6" wide sheet of pasta.

              2. I have made this dough from BA and I absolutely love it. I have made it without letting it rest the second time and it worked beautifully, and I have let it rest for the original 45 minutes and then stuck in the fridge and it was almost easier to work with that way. I can't say enough about this dough and how easy it is to work with (and not nearly as time consuming as it appears!) Fesh pasta makes a huge difference for some sauces and I have really enjoyed it. I have an Atlas Mercato hand crank machine that works fine. The time investment has definitely been worth it for me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: meghanclaire66

                  This is the machine I have had for 20 years, and I'm now ready to make pasta. Thanks for posting, I feel like I can make it with this machine now.
                  I've made pasta with a rolling pin for stuffed large tortellini, it was good but could of been thinner. Fresh pasta is the best!

                2. Don't forget you can always freeze the fresh pasta...I think it's a great way of spending a rainy afternoon and it means you can whip out home-made pasta to impress people on the spur of the moment!


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: alexthepink

                    This is exactly what we do. My husband and I will spend a Saturday making all different kinds of pasta and freezing them. Last Christmas we gave everyone a couple of bunches of fettucini and a jar of Marcella's bolognese, both frozen.

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      I see, I didn't think about making batches in advance and freezing it. I thought "fresh" meant it had to be right away. Do you think freezing it takes something away from it at all?

                      1. re: egbluesuede

                        No, I honestly don't. We just toss it with a little bit of extra flour and make nests of the spaghetti or fettucine. Now, our freezer is not a good freezer and I do think that takes away from the pasta, but when we've eaten it at our parents' houses, it tastes just the same. Oh, for the days when we have a house *and* a good freezer! :-)