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Pasta made ahead?

Hi! First - I'm a newbie. My name is Missy. I have often come here to peruse the boards and am often amazed at the skill level of culinary knowledge here! I have been wanting to join and jump in in the foodie conversations and now I actually have a question to ask - so why not start now?

Per the topic... I am having a birthday party this weekend and expect around 15 - 20 people. I am considering doing a pasta bar with various sauces available and make some fresh pasta (I just got a roller and am in love).

So - first, I know I can make the pasta dough ahead of time and just go for an extended rest period. My question is, how far in advance can I cut it and let it hang out before cooking it? Can I just fluff it with flour and let it sit for nearly an hour? I envision a goopy stuck together mess doing that - but I've never done it...

Any suggestions?

PS - thank you for letting me crash the party - I am looking forward to participating here!

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  1. Welcome, Missy! My local pasta shop tosses their pasta with semolina and it doesn't get gluey. I've bought the cut pasta a day in advance and it's been fine as long as I'm careful not to put anything on top of it to squash it.

    Looking forward to more of your posts. Let us know how your party goes.

    1. Hi, Missy! Glad to have you join us.

      Your idea of a pasta party is a cool one. Making pasta is one of my obsessions - I LOVE IT! I sometimes allow my pasta to sit for an hour on the counter but if it is longer than that I freeze it (it tends to clump in the fridge). However, I always toss it in fine cornmeal and spread it out on tea towels or hang the strands. Last night we had fresh (well, refrigerated overnight) tagliatelle that did clump before cooking my husband and I took it all apart, strand by strand. We should have frozen it but were lazy. We even did a bit of an experiment - we left one clump intact and it did not come apart in the water!

      So, if you do make it ahead (as in longer than an hour or so) I recommend freezing it as per thishttp://www.dailyunadventuresincooking.com/20... instead of refrigerating.

      Let us know how your party goes! What sauces are you serving?

      1. ... the only time I've had a problem with cutting the pasta ahead of time is when the dough is a bit too wet - you can tell as soon as you start to cut it, because the dough re-adheres as soon as it goes through the cutters ... so I always make sure I only add enough liquid to get the dough to form a ball. I toss it in fine semolina, cover it with a clean tea towel and it doesn't stick

        1. Thank you everyone! I am thinking that since I'll be essentially testing on innocent guests, I might go ahead and freeze it just to make sure I don't have a goopy mess and tons of sauce without pasta. :) I would like to experiment a bit with letting it sit and figure this out, but maybe not in a party setting.

          For sauces, I am thinking traditional bolognese, alfredo and maybe a pesto....

          (btw chefathome - making pasta is fast becoming an obsession of mine. I've never done it and since getting the roller, I can't stop!)

          4 Replies
          1. re: missykg

            What roller did you get? Mine is the KitchenAid roller with attachments and man, to think I used to do it all by hand. It is so much fun and works so well. It's almost a miracle watching the pasta pass through the cutters! Every time I do it I get a kick out of it and am awestruck at the simplicity and vast number of variations you can do. My favourites are ravioli and also putting fresh herbs between two sheets and rolling them through. The herbs look so gorgeous and taste wonderful.

            Have a glorious time!

            1. re: chefathome

              We are kindred spirits... I too have the KitchenAid roller with a Fettuccine and Spaghetti cutter.
              I bought them just this month, so I've only tried the noodles, but ravioli is next on my list! I am on the hunt for a wonderful filling. My husband is really gunning for the ravioli....

              Your idea of the fresh herbs between sheets? SWOON! I will have to try that immediately!

              1. re: missykg

                Awesome! We at ChowHound seem to really be passionate about our KA mixers, talking about colours, how powerful they are, and so on (sort of like some guys and their vehicles only worse). Pasta making was revolutionary to me - truly. It sounds sort of weird but in a way it changed my life.

                I don't have the ravioli attachment so I just roll out the sheets and do my own thing (but I would like one someday). One of my favourites is roasted butternut squash filling with ricotta and sage, served with browned butter. Oh, my.

                The fresh herbs between the sheets is remarkable; I saw it in a few of my culinary books and on Iron Chef so cannot take the credit for it. However, I am smitten! It is a clever and impressive "trick". Before you know it you'll be making flavoured and coloured pasta with spinach and beets!

                1. re: chefathome

                  Just a comment about the KA. I have a K 5 A that I bought used in 1989. It works like a charm to this day. Frankly, see no reason to buy another since it's done everything I've ever asked it to. I use the extrusion attachment for pasta with great results. The disks make linguini, spaghetti, tubular pasta, and sheets of pasta wide enough for ravioli and lasagna. Made a lasagne verde bolognese recently w/whole wheat green lasagne, hence the verde, and completely vegan. Guests pronounced it the best lasagna they had ever eaten, then I told them it was vegan. (One of my guest was vegan and I told him before dinner but swore him to secrecy. Sure surprised a lot of people, apparently, pleasantly.

          2. I've never worked with semolina, but my pasta sticks horribly. I have to let the big sheets dry until they're tacky before I cut the pasta.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jvanderh

              I have tried both all semolina and all AP flour - we prefer a dough made with half AP and half semolina flours. It has more of a texture and more of a depth of flavor as well, while not too chewy. The bonus with using some semolina as well is that it doesn't stick quite as easily! I let any dough rest for 20 mins after rolling and prior to cutting, sprinkle with just a dust of flour and fluff it. That seems to do the trick. :)

            2. My biggest problem with fresh pasta is keeping it from sticking together when cooking and right after. I found that only going to 5 on my machine, rather than the full 6, really helped. Will someone be helping you do the pasta? I was at a wedding where they had a two burner hot plate and two chefs. When you picked your sauce, they tossed that into the pan and once it was hot they added the pasta. They were using dried pastas though, which made the job easier. It was about 5 minutes per person for each plate so you might want to keep the time involved in the back of your mind.

              2 Replies
              1. re: escondido123

                Ya, the time issue is a concern of mine... and on top of that, my kitchen is not an open concept, so I'm pretty secluded from my guests if I spend any time in there.

                What I was envisioning was having a variety of sauces complete and kept warm, then make the pasta and let the guests serve themselves. Grab some pasta, top with your choice of sauce, mix yourself on your plate if desired. Sounds simple enough, even if not made to order... but the logistics of that much fresh pasta is becoming daunting....

                I may chicken out and revise my plan to a lasagna... I haven't completely decided yet, but should probably get on that. :)

                1. re: missykg

                  Think long and hard about this. Having fresh pasta cooked ahead, so people can "grab" some is unfortunately likely to end up with a clump of pasta. I think your idea is great, but best suited to an open kitchen not what you have. I would vote for the lasagna, it is safe and will be great. Then once you are more comfortable with the pasta you can begin with a smaller group. Have fun and try not to stress yourself out.

              2. When rolled out, the pasta shouldn't be "tacky" at all (as someone else said). I go for a consistency that is almost "leathery". If the pasta sheets, after drying a while, feel leathery, and you use ample flour to dust the cut pasta thereafter, you should be able to keep the cut pasta in the fridge or, I dare say, even at room temperature for many hours without worry.

                I use 1/2 and 1/2 regular flour and semola rimacinata (farina di grano duro), a fine semolina.

                1. Misskg, why not make and cook your pasta and dress them with your sauces and serve in different platters. Then your guest can help themselves to a little of each!
                  I also agree with Lidia (LOL my name is Lidia and I'm glad to see it is spelled correctly LOL)
                  about the texture should be leathery. If you find your pasta isn't quite that dry to begin with, you can add flour on both sides and then pass it through the rollers. Flour and continue to go thinner with the rollers. When you get to the 3rd notch, check to ensure the pasta is at the correct texture. I don't have the pasta rollers and I have never used my KA to make pasta dough. I make it by hand and sometimes I'm a bit lazy with kneading it to a very hard texture, so at times after the pasta has rested, it can be a bit soft. So, once I have rolled out the rounded ball of dough, I cut it into 3 slices then once across. This gives me 6 piece to began my rolling. I will flour and flatten the first piece and roll it through the 1st notch, I then flour it again, fold it upon itself and put it through the same notch, then I move on to the 2 notch, flour and roll etc.
                  As escondito123, previously mentioned, I wouldn't go to the last notch either unless you are making a stuffed pasta. Hope this helps.

                  1. I think since you're new at this, it's tricky to do this for a crowd of people. I think your idea of doing a lasagna is much better. Even tho a fresh pasta lasagna is a lot of work, it is so fantastic! You can do it the day before and for the dinner, all you do is the oven part and maybe make a nice salad.

                    A lot of us here like Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking; her pasta recipe always works for me, I LOVE her Bolognese and I've made the fresh pasta lasagna (I bake mine a bit longer than her recipe). I would suggest you make 2 (starting 2 days before?) and make one with Bolognese sauce and the other could be pesto/ricotta (just in case you have any guests who don't eat meat).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: walker

                      If you want to make things a little fancier, you might make 2 lasagnas. One could have a tomato-based meat sauce, the other a cream sauce, maybe with spinach. That way you will have something to offer vegetarians or those looking to eat less meat.

                    2. Another idea might be to make the sauces, and then roll a bunch of manicotti or something ahead of time and put it in ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. People could cover with the sauce of their choice, and then you could pop them all in the oven.