Well, it doesn’t quite turn out as red pasta, more like an orange pasta, but it’s still nice to add a bit of color to what is normally and ordinarily a rather plain-looking dish. And, the best part is that it’s no more trouble to make up this red pasta (or orange, if you prefer), than it is to make up plain pasta. Once you have this red pasta down pat, you can make up some green pasta and have them together as part of your Christmas meal.
If you think making homemade pasta is difficult, just follow along and we’ll scratch up a batch together. Before you know it, you’ll be making your own pasta regularly. And, for those who think they can just buy the “fresh” pasta at the store, take a look at the “sell by” date. Nothing that’s truly fresh should be able to last that long.
Ideally, use eggs from free-range hens. They make a better pasta. We use olive oil, as is probably traditional, although any type of vegetable oil will work. For the tomato paste, we happen to have a tube of paste which allows us to squeeze out just the amount we need.
Procedure in detail:
Combine dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, swish together the flour and salt with your fingers. You’ll be using your hands, anyway, for mixing and kneading, so just stick those fingers in and stir around the flour.
Add wet ingredients. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg, oil, and tomato paste. Using a fork, start stirring together the egg, oil, and paste, gradually incorporating flour as you go. As the mixture comes together, it’s easiest to switch to your fingers for mixing.
Add more liquid. If needed, add a bit more tomato paste and/or water to turn the mixture into a supple but not sticky dough.
Knead. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and knead until the dough is uniform and smooth, 5 to 10 minutes. We normally count the number of strokes, and try to do about 400 to 500 strokes.
Wrap and rest. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. This gives the flour a chance to become fully hydrated and the gluten to relax for easier rolling. If you want, you can let it rest longer; place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator and take it out to warm about 30-60 minutes before you’ll be rolling.
Roll and cut. Cut the dough into four pieces, and, working with one piece at a time, roll out the dough into a thin sheet, then cut into your desired shape. We did linguine this time (we have a pasta roller, which makes rolling super simple). If you prefer, you can always make other shapes completely by hand: trofie, cavatelli, pici, orecchiette; we’ve provided instructions for all of those, and none requires rolling.
Dry. As you shape your pasta, place it on a towel-covered rack to dry.
Boil. Fresh pasta boils up just like any other pasta, but remember that it cooks much faster, and the time required depends on how long it has dried. It can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes in boiling salted water to have perfectly-done pasta, so check it early and often.
Loved it! We made a version of a pasta Caprese, basically pasta tossed with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and ground pepper for dinner, and it was fantastic. The pasta was orange and not red, but it did have a slight tomato taste which is, of course, perfect with basil and mozz. We liked the color; it was nice and bright, and, of course, it is fresh pasta (we think that fresh pasta is the easiest way to turn your meal from ordinary to super-impressive), so it rates 5 stars.