While we’re making this for tomorrow’s post, we think that an Almond Pasta Dough is enough to stand on its own. After all, wouldn’t a nice batch of Fettuccine Alfredo be improved with a bit of almond in the pasta dough, giving the dish a more complex flavor profile? We think so. But, as we said, this is really for a different dish, which you’ll see tomorrow.
This recipe is somewhat our own, although it’s based on Pistachio Pasta that we’ve made in the past. If you’re intimidated by the thought of making your own pasta from scratch, don’t be; it’s quite easy, and we think it’s the easiest way to make your pasta dishes stand out from the crowd. And, if you’re worried that it’s hard to shape, we’ve provided tutorials on making a large variety of pasta shapes, many completely by hand. Searching for shaping pasta will get you started, or you can look in our recipe index.
You can try grinding your own almond meal at home, but we found that commercially ground almond meal is much finer than we can achieve. For the egg, go with a good one, if possible, one raised by someone you’ve met and respect how they treat their hens. We think hens that are raised better lay better eggs.
Procedure in detail:
Mix dry ingredients. Traditionally, pasta is made right on the counter; we’ve done it ourselves, but we prefer to use a medium-sized bowl. Place the flour, almond meal, and salt in a medium bowl and use your fingers to combine, breaking up any lumps of almond meal. We’d thought about sifting the almond meal to break up the lumps, but, we figured with the kneading later, it would be okay to skip sifting.
Add egg and olive oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg and olive oil. The amount of olive oil is not critical; we just pour some in. If you want, you can skip it altogether, but we think it makes a smoother, less sticky dough. After adding the egg, use your finger to start mixing. It’ll stick to your fingers, but keep working the egg and olive oil into the flour mixture, until it’s pretty well mixed.
Add water. The mixture will be too dry to form a dough, so add water, about a tablespoon at a time, mixing it in as you go, until you get a stiff but flexible dough. You should be able to press your finger in easily, but the dough should not be sticky. If the dough is sticky, work in a bit of flour.
Knead. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and knead until it’s smooth. This should take about 5 minutes, but, rather than time our kneading, we simply count the number of strokes. About 100 to 150 seems to work for us.
Rest. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to make it easier to shape. You can let it rest longer; we sometimes let it rest for 4 to 6 hours, but, if we go that long, we place it in the refrigerator, bringing it out about 30 minutes before we start shaping so it can warm.
Shape. If you have a pasta machine, you can make fettuccine, or spaghetti; otherwise, consider making pici, trofie, or orrechiette, which can be made entirely by hand. After shaping, let the pasta dry for about 30 minutes by placing it on a rack covered with a clean dish towel. We find it makes the pasta easier to handle when transferring to boiling water.
Cook. Boil fresh pasta the same way as commercially made pasta, but, remember that fresh pasta can cook faster than dry. We’ve had thin pastas that take just over a minute, and thicker pastas that needed 10 minutes or more of boiling. So, check your pasta often.
This is one of the things we really like about making pasta; we can make it to match our meal. And, it tastes a lot better than store-bought pasta, making for a better meal. Also, if you’re making a baked pasta dish, as we’ll be doing with this dough, you often don’t even need to boil it beforehand; the bubbling sauce will cook the pasta as the dish bakes. Five stars.