Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adventures in Extruded Pasta


Many months ago I saw FXcuisine’s account of making macaroni from scratch and his tale of homemade casarecce, and I immediately fell in love with his gorgeous pasta extruder the idea of making extruded pasta myself. Both the hubby and I love pasta. I scoured the internet searching for the sleek, shiny pasta extruder with the gleaming bronze dies, since it is said that only a bronze die will produce a pasta with the rough-textured surface to which sauce will adhere. Finding this Rolls-Royce of home pasta extruders became an obsessive mission for me. You can imagine my frustration when I discovered that it’s only available in Europe. For a small fortune. And that it only works when attached to the Kenwood Kitchen Machine. Which costs a not-so-small fortune. I can’t believe I seriously contemplated getting the extruder and the huge machine to attach it to and paying to have the heavy things shipped over here. Actually, yes I can—did I mention I was obsessed? I can just imagine parking a second stand mixer next to my KitchenAid! Who needs all that counter space anyway?

Maybe at this point I should take a moment to explain what extruded pasta is and how it’s different from other pasta. Extruded pasta is made by forcing a dry semolina-and-water dough through a die. Spaghetti, rotini, fusilli, penne, bucatini, macaroni, and rigatoni are all examples of extruded pasta. Fresh extruded pasta is rare, but most of the dried pastas sold at the grocery store are actually extruded. Rolled pasta, on the other hand, is made by rolling out a flour-and-egg dough, either with a rolling pin or with a pasta sheeter, into a thin sheet and then cutting the sheet into strips of the desired width. Examples of rolled pasta include lasagna, linguini, fettuccini, tagliatelle, and pappardelle. When pasta is made at home, it’s usually the rolled type of pasta. A myriad of other traditional pasta shapes like cavatelli, orecchiette, and trofie are made by shaping pieces of dough by hand. Special dies can be used to make extruded versions of many rolled and handmade pastas.

The alternatives to spending the entire year’s food budget on the pasta extruder of my dreams? Well, it just happens that Pastaworks, a fine Portland-area specialty market, has outstanding fresh extruded pastas which they make themselves. Unfortunately, several delightful Pastaworks pasta dinners only strengthened my desire for homemade extruded pasta. I resorted to making orecchiette from scratch, but the pasta rope was longer than my attention span. The home pasta extruders available in the U.S. have mixed reviews at best, so a relatively cheap, Italian-made hand-cranked model seemed like the way to go. It worked fine, but to be honest, a manual machine is a pain in the butt.

So over a year later, I was still pining for the Kenwood pasta extruder. I think KitchenAid must’ve heard my prayers because they just came out with a Stand Mixer Pasta Press Attachment that, while not as sexy, is every bit as functional. I happen to know that personally because I’m the proud new owner of one. Thanks for my early birthday present, Mom and Dad! I absolutely love it!

With the experience of using the hand-cranked machine under my belt, my first attempts at using my new extruder couldn’t have gone better. Should you be inspired to acquire a pasta extruder yourself and make your own homemade extruded pasta, there are a few things you ought to know…

First, the dough should be very dry—so dry that it won’t even come together into a single mass.


I made one batch with half semolina and half all-purpose flour and another batch with all semolina. Both times, I used 10 ounces of flour in total to about 4 to 4 ½ ounces of warm water. I will use even less water next time. A dry dough will be easy to feed into the extruder, and the freshly extruded pasta will be less likely to stick together. By the way, one 14-ounce batch of pasta will be enough for 2 very generous servings.

Second, feed the dough into the extruder a crumble or two at a time. Larger amounts of dough tend to bind up in the extruder as they reach the auger.


Once the pasta is extruded and cut, arrange it in a single layer on a pasta drying screen or rack.


If you don’t have one, use a baking tray that’s either lined with a clean kitchen towel or dusted lightly with flour. Let the pasta dry for a few hours.


Cook the homemade extruded pasta as you would any other pasta, in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Cooking time will vary depending on how wet the dough was and how long the pasta was dried.

Finally, disassemble the extruder, remove any large gobs of dough, and let the rest dry overnight before attempting to clean the parts. The dough will flick right off once it’s completely dry.

And now, may I present my first batch of homemade extruded rigatoni with tomato sauce with Italian sausage.


In case you’re wondering if it all was worthwhile—without a doubt, the object of my desires really lived up to my expectations. Making pasta with an electric extruder is surprisingly easy, and watching the dough squeeze its way out of the die is definitely my idea of fun. And the pasta itself is more toothsome and flavorful than anything you can buy. Most definitely worthwhile.

Next up: More Adventures in Extruded Pasta.

22 comments:

Kamran Siddiqi said...

Oh my gosh! What a wonderful post! Make me want to go make some! You're passing on this extruded pasta "obsession" to me. Now, I won't be able to stop thinking about it!

Amy I. said...

What a great post! Found you via Kamran on twitter :) I just got the KA extruder attachment for my birthday but haven't used it yet. Looking forward to trying it out with your tips! Now I just have to decide which shape to try first...

HollowPeas said...

Oh my those are beautiful! I am still lusting after a kitchenaid mixer, and I can only imagine my want for a pasta extruder will come shortly after I get one.

Memória said...

Aww, I want a pasta extruder! I guess I'll just have to keep looking at your lovely photos in the meantime. :)

lostpastremembered said...

When I got the Cuisinart pasta attachment, I was so unhappy... the granular dough was a pain and the old hand cranked Atlas did a much better job. This really seems like it works and your post beautifully captured that simmering lust for a device that often explodes in an expensive purchase! Great that you exercised restraint and still got what you wanted! Kudos for a great blog!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

That is really cool. You did a great job. I have an extruder on a bench(a torchio) that belonged to my grandmother in Italy. There is a slide show on the right hand side of my blog showing it.Stop by and see it.

veron said...

Great job with the extruded pasta. It looks delectable!

likestocook said...

Ok, now I want to get a pasta extruder.

Carter @ The Kitchenette said...

Oh, I totally asked for the Kitchenaid pasta extruder attachment for Christmas. Oh, I'm so jealous of you right now.

Also, I've never visited your blog but I adore your writing - I've finally found another person who thinks kitchen appliances are sexy... finally.

[ixen said...

Oh my..must get that for my Kendwood Mixer! Thank you for sharing the recipe and your story. I could imagined the excitement! Also, love that picture with the pasta extruded or should I say 'ooozing' out like that!

rho said...

have you by chance tried making pasta with King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour -

I'm have been lusting after this extruder for months...

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

rho,
I haven’t made whole wheat pasta yet, but I definitely need to try it!

Daniel Tariku said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. So you mentioned you tried with semolina alone and another with a mix of semolina and all purpose flour. Any comment as to the difference in the final product? This was an entertaining as well as informative read. I think I'll get the extruder now.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Daniel Tariku,
Pasta made with 100% semolina flour has a little more chew. Have fun experimenting!

Phil Ritchie said...

So, just to be sure, there are no eggs in your recipe here, correct? Just semolina (or 1/2 AP) & water.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Phil Ritchie,
That's correct, the recipe here uses nothing but flour and water. But you can use eggs or a combination of eggs and water if you wish.

mnickel said...

Thanks for this... I purchased this kitchenaid attachment when I found it on sale a few weeks ago. Past memories of dough stuck in my manual roller machine obviously had me looking externally some inspiration.. I couldn't believe how easy it was to mix and make the pasta.. I think I had the extruder cleaned and back in its box within ten minutes. I'm looking forward to trying this again.

I added a pinch of salt to your recipe, Kitchenaid should definitely incorporate a small no egg recipe into their manual.

Thanks..../Mark

donachyblog said...

Thank you for posting this. I was trying to troubleshoot my flat rigatoni. I think your much drier recipe will do the trick!
Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle!

Crystle said...

I know I'm a bit late to the party - and I apologize - but I just wanted to let you know I tried your pasta ratio last night and loved it. My husband bought me the KitchenAid pasta extruder attachment for Christmas and having read the negative reviews about the texture, I knew I needed a drier dough. So many sites do not list a recipe that would suffice for a machine - until this one. It was delicious! Thank you very much for providing me with a starting point for my extruded pasta! :)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried adding herbs, chopped spinach, etc., to the dough? That is a deal-maker or deal-breaker for me.

Lucy Vaserfirer said...

Anonymous,
I’ve made extruded pasta with tomato paste in the dough, and the results were fantastic. There’s no reason why other flavor variations wouldn’t work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick reply, I was worried more about the texture (would bits of herb in the dough cause tearing), and I guess using spinach just requires attention to keeping the proper level of moisture. I also would like to try brewer's yeast. Plain pasta seems a waste of a nutritional opportunity, especially if the cook is trying to get something past finicky children or spouses.

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