Homemade Pasta Using a Pasta Extruder
I think making fresh pasta is the culinary application of exercising intuition. For me, intuition has always been an immediate cognition. In a moment, a slight to intense spiritual perception washes over the mind and body, and a quick decision is made. I feel like making pasta is a micro exercise in not having all the answers, but making decisions based on how the dough feels instead of using absolutes.
This dough recipe has a range of water you can use. No absolutes here! Different brands of flours can affect where you will fall in this range. I usually use right at 1/4 cup, but there have been other times when I have used a different brand of semolina and it required closer to 1/3 cup. The dough for extruded pasta should just come together, so if it looks like the picture below, I would say your intuition hit the nail on the head on when to stop pouring the water.
I know this is stressing out all of my precision-loving sensing cronies who want to know that if A gets put into B, C will inevitably result every single time. And although I agree that algorithms are lovely, variables exist and it makes life interesting! Think of it as a chance to exercise intuition and end up with a bowl of fresh pasta. Personal growth exercises that result in a bowl of fresh pasta? I submit that this is the best form of personal growth on the market and I fully intend on selling this as a package in the future. “I know so many of you have asked me about my wellness routines, why my skin is so radiant, and why I am generally awesome. I am going to sum it up with one word: pasta.” No one will argue or even try to prove I am wrong because: pasta.
Not long ago, I treated myself to a KitchenAid Pasta Extruder attachment. Probably in my top five best kitchen investments. The attachment fits right into your KitchenAid mixer and it is therapeutic to push a walnut-sized piece of dough into the agar and see familiar, mouth-watering shapes appear. For me, this is one of those investments that if you use frequently enough, would easily pay for itself in the price of dried, gourmet pasta over the course of a year. Or possibly a month, depending on your pasta consumption. Absolutely no judgment. It tastes much better than dried, store-bought pasta and it comes with the satisfaction that you put in a little extra work to make it fresh.
With my extruder attachment, I am able to make rigatoni, bucatini, small macaroni, large macaroni, fusilli, and spaghetti. I have always loved the thick, hollow bucatini noodles. The texture and thickness of bucatini is so generous and comforting that you may start preferring them over the thinner strands or angel hair or spaghetti. They are delicious in chicken noodle soup or a Pad Thai variation (Gasp! Rice noodle blasphemy). Large macaroni or fusilli to make crispy pancetta macaroni and cheese, a frequently requested dish in our household.
The dough recipe is simple, as it should be. All-purpose flour, semolina, eggs, water. That’s it! Extruded pasta seems to do better when you hit the sweet spot of enough water for the dough to come together, but not enough for the dough to be sticky. If you don’t have an extruder and you prefer rolling it through a pasta machine and cutting it into fettuccine or making ravioli, this recipe will work great, too! Simply add a bit more water for a smoother dough and it will be more conducive to the pasta machine. Really let that intuition fly and just keep trying until you feel like it’s right! There is no shame in starting over and it took me a few times of hacking away at the extruder to get into the pocket.