Explore the experience of homemade pasta on National Pasta Day

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By: Amelia Hooper

Luca Nebuloni/Flickr

Making pasta from scratch can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a little pre-planning, you’ve put together a truly homemade and satisfying meal.

You can use special pasta tools like a stand-mixer attachment, but if a rustic look is just fine, then you can just use a rolling pin and knife.

First is a basic pasta recipe that can be used for just about any type of pasta dish. Then check out these recipes exploring the possibilities of pasta: a seasonally-appropriate pumpkin ravioli, a detailed tutorial for a hearty tortellini with a bonus recipe and an easy gnocchi and red pepper sauce.

Basic pasta dough recipe

From TasteofHome.com

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Directions

Place 2 ½ cups flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Beat eggs and oil; pour into well. Stir together, forming a ball. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes, adding remaining flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Savory pumpkin ravioli

From TasteofHome.com

Ingredients

1 recipe pasta dough (see above)

Filling

  • 1 small pie pumpkin (about 2 ¼ pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tsp. chopped shallot
  • ⅓ cup butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • ¾ tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, saute pumpkin and shallot in butter until tender. Add the sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor; cover and process until blended. Return to the pan; stir in cream and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf.
  2. Divide pasta dough into fourths; roll one portion to 1/16-inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.) Working quickly, place rounded teaspoonfuls of filling 1 inch apart over half of pasta sheet. Brush around filling with egg. Fold sheet over; press down to seal. Cut into squares with a pastry wheel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  3. Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until ravioli float to the top and are tender. Drain and keep warm.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil; cook, uncovered, until reduced by half. Stir in butter and sage. Serve with ravioli.

Perfect tortellini with mushroom-parmesan filling

From Niki Achitoff-Gray, SeriousEats.com

Ingredients

1 recipe pasta dough

Filling

  • 5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
  • 5 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
  • 5 oz. oyster mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
  • 2 ½ tbsp. butter
  • 2 small shallots, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ oz. grated Parmesan cheese (approximately 1/2 cup loosely packed) plus more for serving

Directions

  1. Place mushrooms in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch, 8 to 10 short pulses.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture is dry and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add red wine and Worcesterhire sauce. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring, until no visible liquid remains, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a plate and spread into a thin layer. Transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, divide dough into four even sections. Working one section at a time, with remaining sections tightly wrapped in plastic, roll dough through machine or roll with a rolling pin until sheet is just under 1/16th of an inch thick (typically second-to-last setting).
  5. Lay dough out on a lightly floured surface. Use cookie cutter to cut circles as close together as possible, twisting each time to cut all the way through. Each sheet of dough should yield roughly 30 disks. Remove excess dough and cover with a kitchen towel to keep moist. (Excess dough can be re-kneaded and rolled again for a higher yield.)
  6. Using a pastry bag, zip-top bag, or measuring spoon, add 1/2 tsp. of filling to the center of the first disk. Lightly moisten edges of disk with pastry brush dipped in water.
  7. Fold disk over into a semi-circle and, working from one edge and carefully pressing out any extra air, create a seal around the filling.
  8. Pick up both corners of semi-circle and bring them toward each other, working slowly to prevent dough from splitting.
  9. Tuck one corner behind the other and press together. Place finished tortellini on parchment paper dusted with semolina or flour. Repeat with remaining dough. Tortellini can be frozen and transferred to a zipper-lock freezer bag for up to 2 weeks at this point.
  10. Cook tortellini in salted boiling water until tender, approximately 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Return to pot, add olive oil or brown butter along with a splash of pasta water and cook over high heat, tossing constantly until sauce emulsifies and coats the tortellini, adding more pasta water as necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

For an even heartier dish, you can use your homemade tortellini in this delicious recipe.

Tortellini with Italian sausage, fennel and mushroom

From BonAppetit.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, thinly sliced (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
  • 1 lb. spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken brother
  • 1 16-oz. package dried tortellini or fresh tortellini
  • 1 5-oz. package fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot.
  3. Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.

Homemade gnocchi

From Dellalo.com

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ lbs. of potato, approximately 4 large or 6 small potatoes
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup or more for working dough
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • Optional: to make cheese potato gnocchi you can add ½ cup ricotta and ¼ cup grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Boil potatoes: In a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on. The skin helps the potato not too absorb access water. (Dry potatoes are good. Water potatoes are bad.) Boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
  2. Drain well: Remove potatoes and drain well. Allow them to cool in a colander or over cheesecloth.
  3. Peel potatoes: Peel boiled potatoes, removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.
  4. Rice potatoes: Using a potato ricer, rice peeled potatoes. If they appear watery at this point, allow them to rest on a dishtowel to absorb excess water.
  5. The foundation: Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour.
  6. Salt: Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Make a well: Using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.
  8. Add egg: Break egg into the center of the well. Beat the egg with a fork. This is where you would add the cheese for the cheese version.
  9. Incorporate ingredients: Using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.
  10. Begin to form: Use your hands to combine ingredients, beginning to form the dough.
  11. Knead dough: Pull together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi. The secret to perfect gnocchi: Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense.
  12. Shape dough: Shape dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.
  13. Cut dough: Cut dough into 8 to 10 pieces, about 4 inches long.
  14. Roll into ropes: Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope. For shorter, heavier gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes and cut into 1-inch pieces. For thinner gnocchi, roll longer ropes.
  15. Cut dough ropes: Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 1-inch pieces. Cut ends at an angle.
  16. Keep floured: To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen. Ridges or indents: You can use a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb. This process isn’t necessary, but adds to the aesthetic of your final dish.
  17. To cook: Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes. Do not wait longer than 45 minutes to cook gnocchi or they will begin to stick to each other.

Roasted red pepper sauce with gnocchi

Georgia Downard, FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-oz.) package refrigerated gnocchi or homemade gnocchi

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 (6-oz.) jars roasted red peppers, drained

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves, plus more leaves torn for garnish

  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 
Chunk of parmesan for grating

Directions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi according to the package instructions. Drain in a colander in the sink.


  2. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until hot, add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Add peppers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a processor or blender and puree. Return sauce to pan, add cream and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add basil, salt, pepper and few drops lemon juice, to taste.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the gnocchi and sauce together. Divide among bowls, strew over some torn basil leaves, and grate some Parmesan over the top. Serve immediately.  
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