Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to Make Whole Wheat Pasta From Scratch - Cheap and Easy Recipe

I decided to write a pasta tutorial. I love pasta. I've just switched out my failing baked bean experiments with a beloved pasta dish in my two week menu rotation. That means that we have pasta roughly six times per month. I make whole wheat pasta for $0.24. I found whole wheat pasta at the store for $1.50; it may be less with coupons and sales. So I save $7.56 per month making my own pasta, and $90.72 in a year. That's a lot of dough for pasta.

My pasta tastes better than store bought whole wheat pasta because I use whole white wheat, and store bought is usually whole red wheat.

And it is so simple.

I start with a three to one ratio of flour and water.

1 1/2 cups flour -$0.24

1/2 cup water - $0

In the past, I suggested that you add a tablespoon of water to that 1/2 cup of water, but that may have been bad advice. After I mix the 3:1 ratio, my dough is flaky, and not all of the flour can be mixed in. I need more water, and end up adding a tablespoon. (Click on pictures to see the colored versions.)

I would recommend mixing the flour and water, and seeing where you are, then adding a teaspoon of water at a time until you get to the right consistency, which is a hard ball of dough, not flaky, and not sticky.

Now I like a thicker textured pasta, rigatoni or medium shells. The consistency of angel hair makes me want to throw up. You may feel the opposite. However thick you like your pasta determines how much you have to roll it. I divide my dough in half and roll it. If you want it thinner, divide your dough into three or four parts and roll it thinner.

So, to roll, start by flouring your rolling surface.

Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin.

I cut it into strips. If you want spaghetti or linguine, you can leave it as strips. A pizza cutter is the best tool for this.

I then cut the strips short into noodles. I don't aim for perfection.

Here is the whole batch in the pot.

Cover with water, put lid on pot and boil. It took fifteen minutes from the time I put the noodles and water on the stove until the pasta was done.

Check to see if it's done by tasting it. If it is still chewy in the middle, it needs more time. When it is done, it will have the same consistency as store bought pasta.

Then, you will have pasta to do with what you please.


Jessica said...

Looks delicious! I just attempted homemade noodles for the first time on Friday and I made it way more complicated than it needed to be. Thanks for the tutorial!!

And I think I may have taco mac for dinner tonight. Yum!

Natballs said...

it's all in b&W!

Emily said...

You can click on the pics to see the color versions

Anonymous said...

I still don't know if I'm ready to try my hand at making my own pasta, lol! I guess I'll give it a shot if and when I ever run out of my huge pasta stash :P

On another note - is there any way you can make it so no one can comment on your pix on flickr? People are just plain rude and it makes me wanna beat them up for you - gr. Okay, so I wouldn't really beat anyone up, but seriously!

A *lot* of the food I make is fugly...but it's suuuuuper yummy! Don't judge a book by its cover!

Anonymous said...

I think you have some good ideas, but maybe some color would spice things up a little. The b&w is a little depressing.

malinda said...

The taco mac looks awesome!

KAR said...

Oddly enough, I am also skeeved out by angel hair pasta.

luckymom4 said...

Where do you get white whole wheat flour? I've looked everywhere and can't find it. My kids usually won't touch anything whole wheat.

Emily said...

luckymom4, I get it at Walmart, King Arthur brand. It's $3.16 for 5 lbs.

Athiest Mama, I can block users and delete comments and post witty replies, but I can't figure out how to disable all comments.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should post the comments that don't congratulate you on feeding your kids garbage. Poor kids. Way to invovle your kids in your "poverty game".

Clisby said...

I love homemade pasta (especially since my husband is the one who makes it at our house). He makes it with eggs, though.

Anonymous said...

Um, to "anonymous" Just how is homemade pasta garbage? Go look at a pasta box- can you even pronounce everything that is in YOUR pasta? I doubt it. Made from scratch is best- no fillers, no preservatives, no chemicals... Her kids are blessed to have a mama that takes the time to feed her kids as natural as possible. Give her a break!

Kimber said...

SOme of you really need to get a grip on reality & climb down off your high horse! She does a very good job caring for her family with what they have! Feeding her children homemade stuff is not feeding them garbage! Dont some of you have anything better to do with your life then pick on others that are only trying to help those who do not know how to help their selves as well.

Jenny said...

May I gently suggest that you maybe try to read up on a few pointers about how to photograph food? I'm sorry, but your photos do your meals absolutely no justice. The color ones aren't really any more appetizing.

Emily said...

Jenny, it is what the food looks like in real life, kind of like a worm stew. (With all boys, I see this being a popular look for food later on) It is because of the thickness of the pasta. No amount of photography training would change it, but it is real yummy!

Emily said...

To Anonymous who keeps commenting, without being published, about my general diet, this post is not about my diet. It is my pasta tutorial. If you have anything intelligent to say about my diet, go to this post, READ it, comment, and I may publish your comment there.


Anonymous said...

About the food photography...who cares? So yeah - some of it does look unappetizing, but how many of us actually make things that look gourmet?

I do like when people or cookbooks have photos of the food, but I also get bummed out when my own food looks NOTHING like the original. Normal people don't usually make glamorous looking foods...but that doesn't mean they don't taste great :P

Another thing - I know you don't allow the rude comments so much anymore (good for you), but I just wanted to say I find it amusing that the vast majority of the rude people post anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Homemade food is great... when it is actually homemade FOOD. Google paper mache recipes briefly, most are flour & water. Google pasta recipes all are flour, eggs, and maybe a bit of salt or oil. None are just flour & water. Flour and water is just paste, not real food. Blech.

FTR I make own homemade pasta quick and easy 1 cup flour, 2eggs. It makes enough for 2 adults. It is more expensive than paste but it also tastier and more nutritious.

Nydia said...

hi, is it possible to make this pasta ahead and freeze it? If so, how? Thanks for the awesome post....and blog.


Emily said...

Nydia, I would recommend drying it, then you can freeze it, or keep it in a airtight container.


Anon, according to dictionary.com, pasta is "Unleavened dough, made of wheat flour, water, and SOMETIMES eggs, that is molded into any of a variety of shapes and boiled."

If it has eggs, they are EGG NOODLES. This is not my egg noodle recipe, this is my pasta recipe. Look on the side of a box of pasta, and unless its egg noodles, eggs are not an ingredient.

Lila said...

Re: your food being "garbage" -- I strongly disagree with your distrust for mainstream dietary recommendations, but I would hardly call your food "garbage!" There's nothing wrong with homemade pasta! I would personally be pairing it with some chicken and veggies, or marinara sauce with a bit of lean ground beef or turkey and a side salad, but to each their own! If you and your family like "taco mac" (which does not look appetizing to me), then go for it!

Re: your food photography -- I agree with the other poster; a little more attention to composition will improve your images. Some of them are out of focus, which is distracting. Experiment with your camera settings and see if it can do macro.

Re: pasta ingredients -- at first, I was grossed out by your recipe because, in my mind, flour + water = paste, and when I Googled the recipes I saw all contained egg and salt. However, I just checked my spaghetti package, and it does not contain egg, so you are vindicated! LOL Maybe I will give your recipe a try after all!

Elizabeth said...

It is sad when people these days think things from a box are healthy and homemade food is denying your children something? Seriously? My kids are missing out on something if I make homemade pizza or noodles? Uhmm...you just have to kind of step back and wonder what the world is coming to if someone thinks a parent is bad for feeding their child homemade meals! Guess I should go buy a box of Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes for supper tonight instead of making them from scratch. DUH!

Jen said...

Do you not boil the water first then add your pasta?

Anonymous said...

While I do not agree with you on a lot of points, I love your frugality. It really is cheaper and healthier to make things yourself rather than buying from a store. This makes making pasta a much easier thing for me to tackle (for some reason I always pictured it harder.)

And I will say nothing negative for once in my life. =] (Though, to be fair, I am thinking it. lol) I look forward to reading a lot more.

Anonymous said...

We grind our own wheat and make our own pasta. I would not be able to eat the pasta you make for texture and flavor issues. We also have a stainless steel hand-crank pasta maker for rolling our pasta. You can pick these up for a few dollars at a thrift store or new for around 20. For our family of 4 we use 3 cups of fresh milled flour, a few tablespoons of oil (walnut is wonderful) sea salt, and 3 fresh eggs from our chickens. This makes a really good lasagna noodle too, although I make my lasagna in the oven again for textural reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: That's what I figured pasta making involved. I'm going to try Emily's (because it's so simple) and if not I'm going to follow yours. =]

Emily said...

Anon, you've never tried my pasta, so you really can't know what the texture and flavor are. I find a pasta maker unnecessary, as a rolling pin works fine for me. You're recipe sounds great though, fresh and nutritious.

Bubblej said...

Emily, have you tried making gnocchi? I was inspired by your pasta making to try making it and it is delicious and fairly easy. A little more expensive then pasta (potato, flour and eggs) but might be nice to mix it up? I worked it out as $0.50 per serve, and that feeds two people. That being said I don't shop around as much and I'm sure you could make it much cheaper!

Anonymous said...

The texture is too thick for us and it needs something else besides water for flavor. We like thin fresh pasta. I hand roll it several passes each time adjusting the dial until it is elastic and thin. Then it is added to salted rapidly boiled water for 3 minutes. You could hand roll this with your pin but you need to do it for a long time to get it thin. Your pasta is pretty much an egg-less Amish dumpling.

As for the comments about boxed stuff being garbage I completely agree. That is why my family eats all fresh food. I think many of us could mentor Emily in how to add some fresh foods to her family's diet. I am not seeing very much in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Emily said...

Anon, you're right, if you want thin pasta, it would take a long time to hand roll. I wrote a post about our diet as a whole (below), and am working on another one titled "Fresh vs Frozen" about where we get our fruits and veggies. When I publish it, I would love your feedback.


Jessica said...

If you look at the ingredients on most of the store bought pastas, they are simply flour and water.

With that being said, my child is allergic to eggs, so I make my pasta ("paste") with flour and water only.

Emily - you can add some greens to your noodles too. I buy frozen spinach and collard greens and add it to most of the food I make my family. It's sometimes the only way I can get my little one to eat his veggies. I posted about it here:


I think all of these people who think you are doing your children a disservice by making homecooked food for them need to get out a simple book on nutrition and start looking at the labels on the food they are giving their families.

x said...

Hello Emily,
I like to cook myself, so I enjoy reading your methods for frugal meals. I think it is definitely healthier to avoid preservatives and things like that.

I was looking through our local grocery store sale ad & noticed that eggplant was 39 cents/pound. I thought of your blog!

You've stated before that your family's diet is about 50% meat. I'm sure that's filling, but you are missing a whole range of nutrients in fresh vegetables. Also, the best time to get your children to eat vegetables is when they are young! This way, they can develop a taste for these foods that will last them a lifetime.

I realize you are on a budget, but have you considered introducing a new vegetable every week or so? You could start out with something like eggplant which seems to be pretty inexpensive. At the very least, it would give you a little more variety.

I would also recommend something like cabbage (you could make egg rolls!) and broccoli (easy to sneak into other foods).

Also, a lot of people eat beans, which provides a lot of protein. Beans are wonderful when you cook them in a crockpot.

Well, I just wanted to let you know that I thought of your blog when I did the grocery shopping. Congratulations on the birth of your new baby.

crabcakes said...

Emily, I had a little "sprinkle" flour left from making pretzels and doughnuts today so I took the bowl and mixed it with just enough water to form a ball and I rolled and cut it into a handful of noodles like your recipe described. I boiled it and ate the tiny serving and you know what, it really wasn't bad. I think I'd prefer a little egg or salt in the mix, but even without this would make a sufficient noodle.

Have you ever used your recipe to try making ravioli? I see you posted a ricotta recipe earlier and it would be a nice combo.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for the flour you use and found it at kroger, our walmart does not carry I bought it to use in baking and have been very pleaded although it was quite expensive $4.14 as compared to walmart brand white flour at $1.58

Anonymous said...

Emily--I tried making your pasta and it rocked. Why do I think it rocked?

1. Because it inspired me to make my own pasta for the first time--it was so easy! It didn't call for a bunch of random crud that I don't have in my kitchen.

2. Because of it's simplicity, it's a meal I can make literally ANYTIME. I made a sort of mac and cheese with mine. I added a dash of cream, a little shredded cheese and some cuts of basil I have growing in my kitchen. Darn good and cheap.

3. Because the first batch tasted good enough to work with. The first batch of anything I try is 'so-so.' But this recipe worked well enough to get my wheels spinning, I'll be making pasta I'm happy with in no time--because of you!

Also, DH and I don't eat any meat (opposite of your quirky diet), but I sneak veggies into everything. Recently, I made my mac and cheese with equal parts pasta and califlour--which looks almost indescernable from the pasta.

You can throw any chopped veggie into the pasta water and let it cook right in there (spinach, carrots, zuchini, onion, mushroom.) Then you sauce it or cheese it or whatever. You can pick the cheapest veggies at the time. But hey, putting more veggies into the diet is always my knee jerk reaction.

I like your blog as is--regardless of whether your photos are in black and white or if your diet is different than mine.


Emily said...

Moxie, sorry I didn't answer your question. I don't boil the water first because I cut it in batches. I throw the first batch in the pot while I roll and cut the second batch. I don't find that having them sit in the water until it starts boiling effects the final product. Others may disagree.

This is a link with a similar recipe or flour and water, for those who don't believe this is real pasta. I would also recommend people try it before you knock it. It's only $0.24.


Anonymous said...

Emily, would you post your two week menu rotation please? Does this include breakfasts and lunches as well?

Thanks :)

Emily said...

Anon, here is my menu rotation, it's two posts.


Here is our breakfast


Sometimes our main sit down meal is lunch, if my husband work second shift. Otherwise, he has leftovers for lunch, and the kids and I are grazers, so we don't have a lunch menu plan.

Anonymous said...

You could just roll the dough into a pinwheel after you have it rolled out and cut the noodles the short way if you are looking for a less worm like shape for the noodles in the future.

Unknown said...

As someone who has eaten paper mache,I will strongly disagree with the Anon person. By the way, my wife made her first homemade pasta today and it was delicious!

Emily said...

Jenn, go to the same dictionary.com link and scroll down. You will see the definition I listed.

Anonymous said...

My Ronzoni brand Healthy Harvest pasta is just whole wheat flour -- no egg. Most boxed dry pasta doesn't include egg (some people should read the ingredient lists on their food more often).
Emily, I've been reading your blog for a few days now and I've really enjoyed it. You have so many great ideas!

Anonymous said...

I almost fell out my chair laughing at the response you left happysnappa on flickr. That was a good one.

Bianca said...

WE always make whole wheat pasta , but i also make it more 'interesting' (i do have a 8 year old) i put a spoon full of tomatoe paste in the dough.. makes the noodles red
and then i serve it with just butter and garlic , i also did this with spinach and basil before (in a blender to make it liquid), also made pumpkin gnocci last thanksgiving.. i think there is no limitation once you get your mind going!!
btw i am trying the carrot bread -my crockpot is one of the tiny ones so it is made in the oven..
which is ok since i am freezing and i am too cheap to put the heater on when my kid is in school!!

Anonymous said...

I had a friend from Argentina who grew up with an Italian Mama who made their pasta every day by hand rolling out a flour and water mix with a rolling pin. If you go to Itlay today the women more often than not in villages will use a huge rolling pin to roll out their pasta and while you do get a different texture using eggs most pasta is made simply with flour, water and perhaps a little salt, garlic, tomato or spinach.
Good job on your blog really interesting reading.

Anita said...

Emily...hey add an egg to your pasta recipe to boost up the protien. Actually you could make pasta with just flour and eggs.

Sally Sand in No Man's Land said...

Thank you for your recipe! I started with your basic recipe and after adding in some basil and egg I had the most yummiest noodles ever! Thanks again.

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