Get Your Kids in the Kitchen with Homemade Pasta

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Homemade pasta is a little bit of a miracle.  It only takes a few ingredients:  eggs & flour, maybe some olive oil.  After a little kneading, rest time, and rolling, the fresh pasta is ready to plunge into boiling water and cooks in a matter of minutes.  Pasta is a great vehicle for seasonal spring vegetables such as peas, asparagus, artichoke, arugula, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, mushrooms, or fresh herbs.  Add a little butter or olive oil and a sprinkle of good Parmesan cheese, and you’ve truly got a delicious meal.

The Edible Schoolyard recently offered a homemade pasta class for a group of hungry middle schoolers- and it was a blast.  Though we may not have reached the standard of Italian nonnas, the fresh pasta was still oh so tasty.  Kitchen tasks, like making fresh pasta, are a great way to get your kids involved in the cooking process and to have a good time together.

To make the noodles, we rolled our pasta dough through a pasta machine, which was a lot of fun for the kids, but you can also use a rolling pin and pizza wheel to cut the dough into strips.  We topped our pasta with a kale pesto sauce made by hand in a mortar and pestle (another good kitchen task for keeping kids busy and engaged).  The recipe for both the egg pasta and the kale pesto are below.  Enjoy- and happy homemade pasta-making!

Fresh Egg Pasta

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

1.       Pour the flour into a mound in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour.  Break eggs one at a time and carefully beat them without disturbing the wall of flour.

2.       Use a fork to gradually draw the flour into the eggs, stirring in wider and wider circles.

3.       Use both hands to push the remaining flour into the center, and work the mixture until a dough forms.

4.       Knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough is springy.

5.       Divide the dough into 3 balls.  Cover with plastic or a damp dish towel, and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

6.       Sprinkle dough with flour and flatten with the palm of your hand.  Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a large, flat disc.

7.       At this point, follow the directions on your pasta machine, or use the rolling pin to stretch the dough thinner and thinner.  It needs to be really thin.  Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into strips for noodles.

8.       Once the noodles are cut, immediately add them to salted, boiling water.  Cook for just a few minutes and drain.  Fresh pasta does not take long to cook.

Kid-Approved Kale Pesto

1 big bunch kale

¾ cup olive oil

½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cloves garlic, smashed

½ cup toasted walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice to taste

1.       Blanch the kale in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Drain and cool.  Once cool, squeeze out excess water and rough chop.

2.       In the bowl of a food processor, add the kale along with smashed garlic.  Process and then add the toasted walnuts.  Once this mixture is finely chopped, slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice.  Stir in the parmesan cheese and a few grinds of salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

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