Do you ever wonder why the pasta tastes so fresh and good at a nice Italian restaurant? Most likely, it’s because they make their own pasta daily from scratch. At first the process may seem kind of daunting, but after a little practice it’s almost as easy as boiling noodles! If you own a mixer, I would recommend buying the pasta attachments – it really speeds up the process and is much easier than the old school, handheld machine.
For many years I thought I knew how to make great pasta from the many years I worked at high-end restaurants, but I had a real eye opening experience when I went to the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy about 5 years ago. I recall one special night when my family and I went to dinner at a traditional Italian restaurant and ordered every pasta dish on the menu. I remember watching this little old lady making the pasta from scratch and it was amazing! You could just tell from her ease and efficiency that she had been making pasta her whole life.
Below is my recipe for fresh pasta. Once you learn this basic recipe, you can branch out and try tortellini, ravioli and even egg noodles (and it’s no secret, I use the tried & true Joy of Cooking recipe when I make egg noodles!). Over the past few years, my pasta repertoire has grown due to working with the new grape skin flours from WholeVine Products. My favorite grape skin flours for delicious pasta tend to come from Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape skins. Grape skin flours are fun to use in pasta dough and they add a slight fruit flavor.
Merlot Red Sauce with Fresh Merlot Grape Skin Flour Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Pair with Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot
For the Merlot red sauce
- 2 Tbsp. WholeVine Merlot grape seed oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced small
- 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. red wine, such as Kendall-Jackson Merlot
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
- 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes in juice
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 basil leaves, chiffonade (for garnish)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, as desired
- Heat oil in a 2-quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the red wine, followed by the tomato paste, diced tomato, salt, water, bay leaf and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and turn down to low heat and cook for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Keep warm.
For the Merlot grape skin flour pasta
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 Tbsp. Merlot grape seed oil
- 5.5 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4.65 ounces semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1.3 ounces Merlot grape skin flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. water
- In a bowl, whisk together eggs and oil. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flours and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the egg mixture inside. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes on low speed, adding water to moisten if necessary.
- Place dough on a floured work surface and knead until a ball is formed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll dough through a pasta machine, starting at the 0 setting and working up to the #5 setting, dusting with all-purpose flour as needed.
- When the sheet of dough gets too long to handle, simply fold the dough in half and continue to roll through the machine. Dust the sheets of dough with semolina flour and cut to desired noodle shape.
Extra pasta can be frozen at this point. Dust the cut pasta very generously with semolina flour and place it in a freezer storage bag. Pasta can be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Bring a 1-gallon pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Strain through a colander and lightly oil and set aside.
- Ladle 1 cup of sauce onto a serving bowl and top with pasta.
- Sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Olive oil can be substituted for grape seed oil.
- For substituting the grapes kin flour, use 6.5 ounces all-purpose flour and 5 ounces semolina flour.