Years ago, a friend gave me an Imperia hand-cranked pasta machine as a housewarming gift. It sat in my kitchen cabinet gathering dust because, truth be told, I was afraid of it.
Flipping through food magazines one day while in line at the grocery store checkout, I came across a “how to make your own pasta” article in Cooking Light. Instead of skipping over the subject as usual, or telling myself dry pasta will do just fine thank you, I paid attention to the easy to follow photographs and simple ingredients and wondered, could it be this simple? I felt especially daring and decided to make fresh ravioli with ricotta and spinach.
I ended up using the pasta dough recipe from the Imperia pamphlet, which called for 2 cups of "00" flour, which I found at Balducci's and 2 eggs, adding small amounts of water until it was pliable. I attached the pasta machine to my kitchen counter (not even looking at the directions, it was so simple) and the whole set up, which I had avoided for years, took less than a minute. My children got in on the action and helped crank out the pasta sheets and then form the raviolis. My husband was amazed at our little creations, imperfectly formed and oversized as they were. “You made these?” Of course, silly. Dried pasta had already become obsolete in our household.
This began my pasta obsession. The next time I tried ravioli with sausage and fresh sage in a brown butter sauce, then pappardelle with fresh tomatoes, onions and mixed mushrooms, and finally whole wheat-spinach fettuccine, which fell apart when I boiled it, but still tasted mighty good. When my girls and I cranked out spaghetti for the first time, we all screamed in delight. I loved my Imperia so much, I went out and bought one for a friend for just under $70 from Williams-Sonoma (seen above). I nabbed the last one and was told by the saleslady that they fly off the shelf as soon as they come in. Great minds think alike.
Once again, what had once seemed too difficult and out of my range as a home cook, had became something so simple even my kids could do it themselves. Maybe I’ll start making my own sausage next…
For more pasta How To's, read my interview with expert pasta maker Maria Marchetti, chef/owner of Columbus Park Trattoria, Osteria Applausi, and Tarantino's.
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