By Michael Hiller
Photos by Michael Hiller
Mix and click for fresh pasta all day, every day
We’re deep into the dog days of summer, the first in a while that we can celebrate freely with friends and family and lean in for hugs, handshakes and close-up kisses. It seems like a good time to take a break from keto or Whole30 or any diet that demands you abandon tasty carbs, and instead indulge in a plate of homemade spaghetti with chopped-up heirloom tomatoes and basil snipped from the garden.
Making fresh pasta is easier than you might think. If you can assemble a few simple ingredients and press a button, an all-in-one pasta extruder can turn out a pound of chef-quality spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, fettuccine or penne in about a half-hour. Our current favorite is the Emeril Lagasse Pasta & Beyond, an as-seen-on-TV device that’s thoughtfully designed and easy to operate.
“Pasta is the soul of Italy,” says chef Stefano Secchi, the Dallas native whose Michelin-starred New York City restaurant Rezdôra specializes in pastas from the Emilia Romagna region. “It’s flour, eggs, maybe a little water; that’s it.”
Maybe that’s all it takes Secchi to make pasta, but the rest of us might need more assistance.
That’s where Emeril Lagasse’s Pasta & Beyond comes in. Scoop a pound of flour into the machine’s hopper (Secchi uses semolina, but all-purpose flour or 00 work, too), add three whole eggs, then hit the mix button. As the machine kneads the eggs and flour into a coarse dough, drizzle in a few drops of water at a time until the dough takes on the consistency of wet sand. Then stop. That’s it. The whole process will take about five minutes, but it’s easy work.
The amount of water you need depends on the humidity and the type of flour you’re using (or if you’re experimenting with another grain altogether).
Give the dough a minute to relax, then press the extrude button to push the crumbly dough through one of eight included extruder plates that will create long strands of the pasta shape you’ve chosen. Slide a kitchen knife along the extruder plate to cut the pasta into whatever length you desire. Once you get the rhythm down, you can make about a pound of pasta in 30 minutes, start to finish.
The Pasta & Beyond ships with everything you need for success (except the flour, water and eggs), including a recipe book, but like everything else from an Italian kitchen, making fresh pasta is not an exact science. Pastas made with the Pasta & Beyond taste infinitely better than the store-bought stuff. If you’ve made spaghetti or fettuccine at home, you already know that. If you haven’t, this sturdy, well-made extruder is a smart way to start.