Hand made noodles add something special to simple soups, casseroles and pasta dishes. There is always a surprising texture to the meal that isn’t there with commercial made pasta. Even if you don’t say anything to your guests, the noodles will get many complements. They will want to know where did you get them and they will be amazed that you made them. Historically they were part of plain cooking and simple food, but not today. Now it is considered a gourmet delight.that takes skill and expensive equipment. But when it really comes down to it, you don’t have to buy a press or other tools to make them. Moreover it is simple cooking skills that you use.
I have chosen my favorite recipe to share with you the simple art of making noodles. When I make noodles and don’t want to fuss I like to use semolina flour because it make a easy to handle dough for hand crafted noodles. I was taught this many years ago by my mother’s family. They lived in Western Pennsylvania and was of German decent. As the only little girl in the family they insisted that I was to learn as soon as I could hold a rolling pin and stand on a stool to make noodles.
Semolina flour is made from durum wheat and is use in Italian pasta. It is ground in a sandy texture and has high content of gluten that makes the pasta stretch and stay together. You can find it in most grocery stores and it isn’t expensive. It usually comes in a 2 pound bag or box that you should get 3 or 4 meals out of it. It is a good grain to add to your diet when you are out of ideas and money. It is a real meal stretcher when used with left over meat and sauces. The simple recipe only takes 5 ingredients. You can use vegetable oil if you don’t have olive oil. I was given some this spring as a gift.
Well let me go find my apron and we will get started. I get flour all over myself and everywhere else when I do this.
Basic Semolina Pasta Recipe
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
2 eggs or 3 egg whites, beaten
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
Mix semolina flour and salt, add beaten eggs, water and oil. Mix to make a stiff dough. Knead for 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest for about 20 minutes to let the gluten develop. On a lightly floured surface, roll out and cut. Cook in boiling liquid with a little oil until done. About 10 minutes. Check pasta after 5 minutes because it depends on thickness.
This is the texture of the dough before kneading. I use my dough hook on my mixer to knead the dough but you can turn it out on a floured surface to knead. You may need to dust it once in a while with flour as you work the dough by hand.
This is what it should look like after you have kneaded or worked the dough. Just wrap it up in plastic wrap and let it rest.
Divide the dough in half to roll out. I use a pastry rolling pin for this but you can divide it in 4 pieces and use a standard rolling pin. Wrap the rest of the dough back into the plastic so it will stay moist.
As you start to roll it out keep lifting it up and dust it with a little flour and turn over. This keeps it from sticking to the surface. I use a large bread board to roll out on but a well floured counter or table will work fine. Roll it out very thin trying to keep it in a rectangle as much as possible. About 1/8 th of inch is good.
Now flour the rolled out dough so it does not stick together when you roll it in a jelly roll. You will be able to cut the noodles this way with a sharp knife.
Cut the noodles in even thin little pieces as pictured above.
Shake them out into little piles and sprinkle a little more flour on them. I transfer them to a cookie sheet with wax paper on it. I line up the little piles on the sheet so that it makes it easy to drop the noodles in the boiling water. Make the rest of the noodles the same way and they can sit on the cookie sheet while you get your sauce and boiling liquid ready. It only takes about 10 minutes to cook fresh noodles. You don’t have to dry these noodles out on a table or noodle rack. Just roll out, cut, cook, and serve. With a little practice It doesn’t take very long to make them. They freeze well uncooked. They are so good that they make great left overs to reheat. This recipe makes about 2 quarts of cooked noodles.
Now do I have your imagination going with all the ways you can use these noodles. My family likes them in home made chicken noodle soup. I don’t know if this is really a cost saver or not. Many stores put noodles on sale as a lost leader so they are not a high priced item. But when you make them you know what is in them and if you have dietary needs you can adapt a recipe like this to your needs. More important in make a simple meal into comfort food.