5 Easiest Fastest Tips to Your Kids' Homemade Pasta
This week I had the pleasure of teaching different classes from preschoolers to teens, from Pleasantville to Peekskill, and we all had a blast making pasta from scratch!
What I didn’t know, is that many of my friends are also interested in making homemade pasta!
Making homemade pasta is a beautiful and simple process, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. I didn’t grow up with an Italian nonna or with pasta-laden Sunday dinners, and if I can do it with preschoolers, you all can do it!
As with anything, if you want to get fancy, you can. You can obsess over what kind of flour to use for your homemade pasta; you can ponder whether to use olive oil or salt; and you can also search the latest pasta making tools.
Friends, I want to make it simple. I’m not a fancy girl. I like simplicity with some creativity mixed in for fun.
Let’s break it down, mama. Because...you have other things you need to get to. Lord knows.
1) What You Need
You need bread flour, eggs and water. Yes, you can leave out the eggs. Yes, you can only use egg whites. Yes, you can use superfine Italian flour or semolina. Stay focused, mama. We are making pasta, not exploring the mysteries of the world.
The basic recipe you want to follow is:
3 ¼ cups of bread flour
Pinch of salt
1 TB olive oil
If you are an Italian nonna, or a lady without kids...you scoop out your flour right onto the counter and make a well in the middle for you to add the eggs.
BUT, if you are a busy mama who doesn’t feel the need to clean extra flour and eggs from multiple surfaces, you put that flour in a bowl.
In fact, what I’ve found better success with is splitting the flour into 2 bowls and letting 2 kids mix it up rather than letting 1 have all the fun. You’ll still want them to make a space in the middle of the flour to add in the eggs.
Once you mix the ingredients together, you’ll want them to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. Spoiler alert: they’ll get tired after 1-2 minutes so you’ll be needing to knead that dough for the rest of the time.
Another idea is to put your ingredients in a food processor and let the kids press the button!
2) Take a Little Rest
I meant the dough, but hey, if you can get a little rest, too, I'm all for that!
The idea to resting the dough, is that the gluten needs some time to relax so that your dough doesn’t “spring back” when you roll it out.
You’ll want to let the dough sit for 15-30 minutes before rolling it out. Or, you can also cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight.
3) What Tools Do I Really Need?
Let me just say that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make pasta without all those fancy tools and machines. Yes, I have a stand mixer, but I don't have that fancy pasta gadget. Simplicity, mama. Let's embrace it.
When I gave up the idea of schlepping the hand crank pasta machine to my classes, I still thought that I needed fancy tools. I purchased a wooden tagliatelle roller and a metal spaghetti roller. They were cool, but I found that neither the preschoolers, the moms or the teens really found them easy to use.
You definitely need your rolling pins to roll out the dough. As for cutting the pasta...what did work the best? Pizza cutters! They were the most fun as were wavy crinkle cutters and knives.
4) Do I Need to Dry the Pasta?
Yes, you should dry your pasta for about 15-30 minutes before you cook it. This is to help the pasta not stick together when you are cooking it.
If you want to save the pasta you made for another time, you can also lay out the pasta on a floured surface and let it dry uncovered. Once the pasta is dry, cover them and refrigerate them for up to 2 days.
5) Cooking the Pasta
With store-bought pasta, the main goal is a product that is shelf-stable and hardy. There is no egg in boxed pasta and the ingredients are semolina flour and water and of course preservatives.
Your gorgeous freshly made pasta doesn’t need to cook as long as your store-bought pasta. You’ll want to bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove, and if your pasta is very thin, 2-3 minutes in the pot is plenty.
If your noodles are a bit thicker (as they might be if you’re making them by hand with kids), you’ll want to boil them for 4-5 minutes. Take a taste when you think they’re done to be sure. The pasta should be firm but tender. You’ll know. You know what pasta tastes like!
What Sauces are Best?
When we make the homemade pasta in my classes, we normally make a tomato sauce to accompany the pasta. However, I’ve found that most of the kids preferred melted butter and Parmesan cheese on their pasta.
In my experience, kids don’t usually love tomatoes or tomato sauce even. Granted, pizza seems to be a different story altogether, but I know that my girl is squarely in the butter and cheese camp with pasta.
According to Epicurious, homemade pasta goes better with a dairy-based sauce, while store-bought pasta holds up better with tomato-based sauces.
I say, go with your own preferences. It’s your kitchen.
Thanks for reading, friends! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!
If you'd like to join us for one of our kids' multicultural cooking classes, please find the class that works best for you here. Or, you can email me at: sharon@cookingwithkidsNY.com.