Mia expressed an interest in learning how to make homemade pasta leading up to her birthday in January. Doting husband I am, I immediately bought her the pasta roller/cutter attachments for our KitchenAid and signed us up for a 4-hour combo sauce and pasta-making class at our local boutique grocery: Dave’s Fresh Pasta.
Chef Jason teaches the class. Jason’s laid-back and friendly style made the class of 13 go smoothly. He was even more knowledgeable and caring about his ingredients and techniques than I expected. He easily articulated why you would choose one type of ingredient over another or what exactly was going on when you used a particular technique and where that might go wrong. His love for his ingredients was inspiring, and he definitely believes in the idea of using high quality ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.
We started out the afternoon with Chef Jason walking us through making a handmade pasta dough: the types of flours that go in, the importance of the quality of the eggs, and why you would or wouldn’t add salt (some believe it blasphemous). We then paired off and made our own dough. While the ingredients are few and the process simple, it’s not easy. There’s getting the feel of the dough just right. And the kneading. And knowing whether to add more flour. And the kneading. And wait, maybe you added too much flour. And more kneading.
After we made our doughs, Chef Jason took us through the process of rolling and cutting fettucine and linguine, which we then got to try on our own. While certainly the easy part of pasta making, it was trickier than it looked. That out of the way, he showed us the art of filled pastas (ravioli and tortelloni), which we again made on our own with our choice of plain cheese, porcini mushroom, or butternut squash fillings.
Pasta down, we moved on to sauces. We learned a basic marinara, a wonderful olive oil and toasted garlic sauce, and a mushroom cream sauce that I might be willing to commit felonies for if I didn’t now know how to make it myself. Chef Jason cooked up the sauces and our pasta we made, and we got to try everything along with a little of the store’s stock of wine (which we had sipped all class paired with some amazing cheese).
No recipes here. You should really take the class (or a similar one near you).
Okay, maybe I’ll post a recipe on Friday based on how I cooked up our take-home leftovers. But you should really take the class.
Before the class, one of my coworkers questioned the wisdom of a pasta seller teaching its customers how to make their own at home. I can now say that whether intentionally or no, part of what Chef Jason drove home was how much better fresh pasta is than dried and that it’s a somewhat taxing process. As a result, twenty-first century Americans aren’t going to often have the opportunity to make their own pasta, and hey, Dave’s is just on the way home and so delicious!