Meet my Italitan Grandma.
She is a Viante Cucina Pasta Maker, and she is quite amazing.
I've made pasta for years. I started out rolling the dough out by hand with a wooden rolling pin, a crazy endeavor that took nearly all day, and thus happened rather infrequently. My Mom gave us an Imperia Pasta Maker years ago to help with the task. This hand crank machine certainly spread up the process, but still, making pasta at home took a few hours. Roll, fold, roll, fold, roll, fold, roll, fold, roll, fold, roll... change the pasta maker setting to a smaller opening, and repeat. Five times. Once Oliver was born, homemade pasta making dropped off to roughly none in our house. A sad but rather unavoidable truth.
Last fall, Mom and I were pursuing a Chef's Catalog when I happened upon the Viante Cucina Pasta Maker, and I daresay she took my breath away. Put the ingredients in, push a button, and it makes the pasta for you? How much simpler could it be? I commented on it, and little did I know, but the wheels started turning in Mom's head. She surprised us this Christmas with the machine as our gift.
I've made fresh pasta about every other every weekend since. This machine makes it truly easy, and fast. The process takes 30 - 40 minutes from start to finish, depending on the type of pasta you are extruding. The machine comes with 10 pasta plates of different shape and size - linguine, fettuccini, spaghetti, rigatoni, vermicelli, ziti, tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghettini, and biscotti. The machine is fairly easy to assemble. Once each part is in place, you add the ingredients, snap the lid on, and let the machine mix and knead the dough.
Once the dough is the correct consistency (this takes all of 3 minutes), you pull a tab out the side, allowing the dough to drop into the extruding chamber, and stand ready to catch the homemade pasta.
The dough will began to extrude through your chosen plate rather quickly. Your only job is to stand guard, cutting the pasta at the appropriate length and watching the dough through the clear top of the mixing chamber to make sure it is neither too wet nor too try. (The lid has a removable spoon covering a slot through which you can add more flour or water as necessary). And that's it. In 20 - 30 minutes, you'll have a pound or so of fresh pasta. Delicious, soft, silky fresh pasta. It's so easy, I feel almost ridiculous even thinking about using store bought, dried pasta.
My only complaints about the machine are that it is very, very loud, and it can be a bit messy on the top (where the hole in the lid is, because of adding additional flour).
But considering how messy and time consuming the alternative is, this is a small price to pay. The machine itself is very easy to disassemble and clean; though, it is advisable to do so immediately after use, so that you can soak the parts in hot, soapy water for quicker clean up. Cleaning up dried, cakey pasta dough is no fun.
The machine "only" does extruded varieties of pasta, so for anything large and flat (lasagna, ravioli, tortellini), I'll still need to use the Imperia machine to roll out sheets. I have a Ravioli Rolling Pin (also from Mom), so hopefully that helps with the ravioli rather than stuffing each by hand.
I just realized I might be slightly obsessed with fresh pasta.
And that my mother might be trying to send me a hint about what she wants for dinner.
But if you've ever had it, you'll understand why.