Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Make Homemade Pasta

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a cooking class with Z, his family and some family friends at The Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Harvard Sqaure. On the menu: Homemade pasta. And lots of it.

Holly was our instructor, and she had us break off into teams of two to tackle the recipes she chose for our class. Z and I decided to take on the pasta, while the rest of our group made the various sauces that were going to dress our noodles. The sauces included were arugula pesto, puttanesca, marinara, and a fresh sauce of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The egg pasta dough that Z and I made was eventually turned into linguine and fettuccine, and we also made a sweet potato gnocchi.

Now, everything we made on Saturday was good - even the wine we drank while cooking and eating was delicious - but the sweet potato gnocchi was by far my favorite. We served the gnocchi with the arugula pesto, and the dish was wonderfully vibrant and flavorful - and surprisingly easy to make. Here's the recipe Holly shared with us:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
-1 russet potato
-1 sweet potato
-1 large egg
-1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
-1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
-1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.) Pierce russet and sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, then bake in a 4-sided sheet plan until just tender, about 45 minutes to one hour.
3.) Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan (we just shred the potatoes with a fork (leaving the skin behind), since there was no ricer), spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.
4.) Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
5.) Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl.
6.) Gather potatoes in a mount in sheet pan, and form a well in the center. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 1/2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of flour.
7.) Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rop into 1/2-inch pieces. Gentle roll each piece into a ball and lightly dust with flour. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.
8.) Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with one at a time, roll gnocchi down fork lines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on one side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but trust me when I tell you, this was one shockingly simple dish to make. Once I live in a place with more counter space, I am making more gnocchi!

The cooking class itself was also a lot of fun, and it was great to spend some quality time with Z's family. Cooking classes aren't cheap (usually), but what you learn and the fun you have while cooking is definitely worth the cost.

Have you ever made your own pasta before? 


  1. I've taken cooking classes with Bret and some friends before and it has always been a great time! Your sweet potato gnocchi look great!

  2. I just started making my own pasta, but haven't branched out yet from plain ol' spaghetti. These sound so good, though, I may have to try them soon!

  3. Jenna, they were sooo easy - much less intimidating than I originally thought!

  4. Oh yum! I've definitely made my own pasta but I've always struggled with gnocchi. I plan to try it again soon though!

  5. I've done gnocchi, but not the other pastas yet... Sounds like a really fun class!

  6. oooh, i love making fresh pasta, wonder why i haven't done it in awhile :) love these sw potato gnocchi though, that's something i have to master!