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Making fresh pasta can be fun for the whole family

"This fresh pasta recipe is my answer to cabin fever days with my kids at home. The dough comes together in a flash and the kids can be kept busy all afternoon long cranking out pasta sheets and making basic pasta shapes."

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I’ve always wondered where the genetic tendencies for cooking and baking were located in my family tree. My Grandma Madeline’s maiden name was “French” and her sisters had French style names as well, Evangeline, etc. I was certain there was some exotic French blood coursing through my veins. I make a mean French brioche and I know how to make all the basic French savory sauces by heart.

I’d always loved to eat pasta and make fresh pasta with Grandma as well, but didn’t know if my pale skin and blonde hair reflected any Italian ancestry in me either. No one ever talked about genealogy on that side of the family and I accepted my assumptions as facts and didn’t pursue the truth.

Cristen Clark new mug.jpg
Cristen Clark

About a decade later, and several years after my Grandma’s passing, I was gifted a DNA test kit to figure out where my sturdy, food-loving roots came from. Well, if you’ve read this far, the answer shouldn’t surprise you. Nowhere is there a drop of French blood or Italian blood in my genealogy. I figured I’d feel like a fraud cooking and baking things that weren’t the "food of my people."

Contrary to what I’d thought, I don’t feel like a fraud. An girl who is mostly Scot-Irish and Dutch to boot can enjoy making anything she wants to, as long as she likes to eat it too!

Fresh pasta is one of my favorite kitchen to-do’s besides baking bread. I was gifted a beautiful red pasta machine for my birthday years ago by my mom, Ceil. When we were little, Mom used to let us make homemade play dough on cabin fever days. This fresh pasta recipe is my answer to cabin fever days with my kids at home. The dough comes together in a flash and the kids can be kept busy all afternoon long cranking out pasta sheets and making basic pasta shapes. By far, our family favorite shape is bow-tie, formally known as "farfalle."

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Preparing this pasta is a cinch. With a little chicken stock, a generous pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt you can have fresh buttery noodles in 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta sheets before shaping. I never roll on the thinnest setting on my machine because I like a "toothsome" dough — something that yields a bit when I bite through.

Fresh Pasta For Fun

The lower half of a person's body is shown. The hands are rolling out pasta dough on a pasta machine. In the foreground are various types of pasta. Across the photo are the words, "fresh pasta for fun," "food & swine" and "foodandswine.com."
Making fresh pasta can be fun for the whole family, no matter if you have any Italian roots.
Cristen Clark / Special to Agweek

Serves 4-5

3 cups or 400 grams all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 large eggs, at room temperature

On a clean countertop add flours and salt, mix with fingers. Build a mountain with flour and salt mixture. Carve out a well into the flours and add eggs.

Combine traditionally, or in a food processor or stand mixer. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth dough forms.

Let dough rest 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap or a moist tea towel.

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Hand roll or prepare for machine rolling. Roll to 2 mm thickness or thinner. Dust with flour, roll and cut into noodle lengths or cut into 1/2” x 2” pieces and crimp centers to form bow ties.

Separate strips immediately. Dry on floured surface and prepare within a couple of hours.

Drop pieces of pasta in boiling chicken stock with a pat of butter. (1 ½ cups stock for a generous handful of noodles.)

Simmer/boil for approximately 2-5 minutes, adding stock to keep liquid boiling. Add ½ cup marinara or ¼ cup pesto to finish. Garnish with Parmesan shreds.

**The length of cooking will ultimately depend on the thickness of pasta. Test for doneness.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.

Related Topics: FOODAGRICULTURE
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