Homemade pasta is fun to make (or quick if you do it in a food processor) and with just the simple addition of lemon, you are already on your way to a flavorful dinner.
I’ve made homemade pasta with my my kids and grandkids since they were able to form a ball of play dough. It is one of the best starter recipes to teach kids because they really get their hands in the food, they always succeed, and it’s great fun! When I teach teens, this is the second on the list of lessons (the first is homemade pizza dough!). The third is grilled cheese sandwich, but the catch is they have to make the bread first! Once they master these three dishes, they feel like they can cook anything.
It’s all about the lemon
I watched an episode of Sarah Moulton’s PBS show where she made a lemon pasta and I thought it sounded lovely. Sarah’s recipe used 00 flour and semolina, an egg, milk, Parmesan and pepper. She also added the zest of a lemon. Her recipe looked wonderful, but I often have trouble finding 00 or semolina flour here, so I thought I would simply take my basic homemade pasta recipe and add the zest of a lemon.
It turned out great! One simple additional ingredient, and I loved it.
Because the pasta was so good, I decide to keep the rest of the recipe simple, so I opted for just an olive oil and butter, garlic, a little more lemon, and some Parm to top. Nothing better!
They all taste good!
You can use all-purpose, unbleached flour here, semolina, or half AP and half semolina. If you can find 00 flour, that’s a good choice, and King Arthur makes a special blend of soft red winter wheat that’s lovely in making pasta. Honestly, they all make really good pasta, so it is all about personal preference. We have to be careful in our home because of nut allergies, and some flours are not safe in this regard. So if you have a nut allergy, you are forewarned.
Homemade Lemon Pasta with Lemon Garlic Sauce
The recipe can easily be doubled.
First, the pasta:
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
Zest of a lemon
Place flour on your table and make a well in the center.
Break the eggs into the well, along with the salt, zest, and olive oil.
Pierce the yolks and start mixing the eggs with a fork.
Slowly bring the flour from the sides of the well into the eggs mixture. Keep working, trying not to breach the dam.
If you do, no worries, just sweep it up with a bench scraper and continue!
Once it is all incorporated, sprinkle with a bit more oil if it feel dry, then start kneading it. You will knead it for about 8 to 10 minutes until it is a little difficult to knead because you have developed the gluten. At this point, you could not roll it out because it would be way too stiff.
Form it into a ball and cover with plastic or a bowl and let set aside for an hour to let that gluten relax. This is an absolute necessary step so the gluten relaxes so you can roll it out to a thin sheet. Once it has rested sufficiently, it will be completely changed into a nice soft ball.
A little faster….
Of course, you can do all of this in a food processor in two minutes. It’s fast, works just as well but isn’t nearly as much fun! Just put the flour and salt in the food processor, pulse a couple of times to lighten it up, then add the eggs and oil. Pulse for about a minute, until it forms pretty much a solid mass. Knead for about a minute and let rest as above.
Roll out your dough, divide into fourths or fifths, and cut as desired. I have an old Atlas pasta roller with attachments for pasta such as spaghetti, capellini, and linguini. You can also roll the pasta out thinly with a rolling pin. In any case, make sure you keep things lightly floured (not too much) to keep it from sticking.
To make a simple pappardelle pasta, a wide flat noodle: roll out your dough very thin on a lightly floured board. Gently dust with flour and let dry for a few minutes. Carefully roll up the pasta into a tube, then cut across at your desired thickness. Dust with a little more flour to gently separate, running the pasta strips through your fingers.
To cook, bring a pot of water to boil and add a few tablespoons of salt. Add the fresh pasta, and cook until it all starts to float, and test. This will only take two or three minutes to cook.
Drain, reserving a little of the pasta water for use in the sauce if desired. This makes a big platter of pasta!
Now, the simple sauce:
You can add as little or lot of garlic as you like, and don’t forget lots of black pepper to finish. Once the water is boiling and you drop the pasta, this takes only a few minutes to the table.
1/4 cup best extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced finely
Zest and juice of two lemons
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tbsp. butter
Parmesan to shave on top
Put your fresh pasta in salted water to cook.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic.
Cook until the garlic is fragrant and add the lemon zest and juice. Mix together well and add your pasta to the pan directly from the cooking pot. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to help thicken the sauce, shaking the pan to get things all mixed together. Sprinkle in the Parmesan and butter. If you want it a little creamier, add a bit more pasta water.
Salt and pepper to taste. This is good with lots of pepper!
Plate, and top with shaved Parmesan and a garnish of fresh basil.
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