Cooking With Kids: How To Make Your Own Pasta
By Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner With Julie
Jul 23, 2015
When most people think of cooking with kids, they think about making cookies, pizza and other easy things. You may be suprised to learn that fresh pasta is among the simplest and most inexpensive things to make with a child—they’ll love stirring and kneading the dough and they'll especially love rolling it through the pasta machine.
A basic hand-cranked pasta machine will run you about $40—less than a family meal out at an Italian restaurant—and will last forever. I’ve owned one for decades.
My son loves our pasta machine so much that we've started buying them as birthday gifts for other kids. They’re always a hit—and something kids will own forever, rather than a piece of plastic they’ll eventually grow out of.
My son loves our pasta machine so much that we've started buying them as birthday gifts for other kids.
When my son was little, he'd play with homemade play dough, rollers and cookie cutters for hours. Now, we make our dough out of flour and eggs and he has just as much fun rolling it thin, then cutting it into spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine, or leaving the pasta sheets large for lasagna or stuffed ravioli (homemade ravioli is a great way to use up leftover bits you may not have another use for—ends of cheese, bits of cooked sausage or other meat, roasted veggies or wilting greens that can be cooked down in a hot pan with olive oil and garlic).
Once you make fresh pasta for the first time, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. You don’t even need to source special semolina flour—regular all-purpose flour works just fine. Some chefs and pasta makers use only egg yolks in their dough, others use whole eggs; either works.
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To be truly authentic, pile the flour on the counter or tabletop, make a well in the middle and crack in your eggs. This is especially exciting for children, who love to watch the egg puddle and run through the grooves of the flour before stirring it all together with their fingers.
Once you've made your pasta, you can hang the cut pasta over the handle of a wooden rolling pin to dry or loosely shape it into nests to store fresh.
You Will Need:
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
- 4 large eggs
1. Pile the flour on your work surface (a wooden cutting board works well). Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Using a fork, stir the eggs in the well to break them up, then start incorporating the flour into the eggs until you have a sticky, shaggy dough.
2. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until smooth and elastic. It should be a little tacky, but not so sticky that it sticks to your hands—if it is, add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for about half an hour.
3. To roll out, divide the dough into quarters and flatten each with your hands so that it’s easier to get started in the machine. Roll it through your pasta machine starting on the thickest setting, then turn the thickness down a notch each time you roll the dough through.
4. Switch the pasta machine to the cutting roller and cut into fettuccini or other shapes. You can also leave the sheets whole to make lasagna or fill to make ravioli.
5. To cook fresh pasta, use plenty of boiling salted water and cook for 3–4 minutes, until just al dente. Save a little bit of the starchy pasta water to help sauce it. It’s best tossed with butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Makes about a pound of fresh pasta.
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