A couple of times a year, we enjoy making large batches of home-made fresh pasta. We use a manual pasta machine with a hand crank for rolling and cutting the pasta. Making fresh pasta together has many educational benefits and is great fun for young kids. For added fun, we play some italian music while making our pasta. The recipe for fresh pasta is simple, the machine is easy to use and the results are well worth the effort. In addition, this activity is an educational lesson in disguise. While preparing our pasta, we talk about Italy, the Italian language and its Latin roots, we listen to Luciano Pavorotti and talk about his contribution to opera. We practice working together as a team as one of us guides the pasta sheet while the other cranks the handle. We appreciate the effort and value of making our own food.
Now, when we look at that box of dried pasta on the shelf in the supermarket, we know that flour, water and olive oil are mixed together to make a dough, rolled, cut, dried and boxed — and that we can make pasta ourselves if we wish.
I plan to repeat this lesson periodically throughout the year and approach different topics each time we enjoy this activity. Here are some of my ideas for future discussions while making pasta:
- Focus on chemistry of recipe – Discuss how the recipe ingredients , when mixed together, form something new (dough)
- Learn a bit of Italian: Learn a few Italian phrases related to cooking or food
- Take video and snapshots and create a short how-to video
- Brainstorm ideas for new recipes for our fresh pasta
Here is a recipe that is close to the recipe I use. I usually don’t measure ingredients because ratios vary depending on the flour, humidity, etc. I usually add a tablespoon of olive oil and use sea salt instead of table salt. The consistency of the dough should be somewhat dry — just moist enough that it doesn’t fall apart when rolling it out.