I am in the camp of people who believe that life is too short to make home-made pasta. I evaluate things like this on a time spent to reward ration. Some things are, despite the extra time spent on them, just worlds better when made from scratch… and pasta, in my opinion, is not one of those things. It is however for some people a passion and I thought I better just give it one more try before dissing it publicly.
Since I had never made lasagne with fresh pasta I decided to try that. I called my pasta cousin, Annika, we poured the wine and we got started. For the filling I had wanted to experiment with something new and had three ideas but just couldn’t decide which one to do. So I decided to do all three - since lasagne is a layered affair – why not? The layers were to run as follows: béchamel, pasta, chopped walnuts, béchamel, pasta, herb roasted veggies, béchamel, pasta, fresh pesto, béchamel, pasta, béchamel, grated white cheddar. I know… what was I thinking… my poor hips.
So that was the strategy now we needed to start with the pasta. I made the dough which is pretty easy (recipe below) but Annika told me that she had read that resting the pasta dough for two hours was said to be essential. So while we rested the dough we made the fresh pesto, drank some wine, chopped and roasted the veggies, drank some wine, made the béchamel and drank some wine.
Time to make the pasta sheets – enter the pasta machine. Rolling out pasta by hand is just too difficult. I have done it ‘rustic style’ a few times and it’s just not nice. With a pasta machine it is easy, fun and a great place to kids involved. After some research on the internet we had decided to follow the method where you pre-blanche the pasta sheets before assembling the lasagne and I think that served the final product well.
The assembly process went really smoothly as we had had plenty of time to get prepared while waiting for the dough to rest. A token salad was tossed together while the pasta was in the oven and soon we were dishing up sticky squares of sin on a plate! It was DELICIOUS but hopelessly too rich. I am now sure that adding cream and grated cheese to my béchamel had not been the wisest move.
The verdict after dinner was that one needs to view home-made pasta and dry store bought pasta in two different camps. The dry version is perfect for every day meals. The home made version is a fun activity - you should have the time, the wine and the company while making it. You should also make double and freeze or dry the rest for future consumption. Above all you should make it special – the kind of meal you would usually not make for dry pasta.
In this case it’s about the journey not the destination, so make the most of it if you going to try it.
Enough for one big lasagne for 8 people
3 cups of flour
1 ½ of salt
Make a well with the flour, crack in the eggs, add the salt and knead until a firm dough forms. Rest for two hours before using for best results.
Make the desired pasta according to the instructions on your pasta machine.