Homemade lasagna and tortellini

Let me start off by saying any pasta making by hand or machine is a labor of love. It can be intensive but fun. It is the experience that memories are made of. It’s the tie that binds me to my ancestors, my father and grandparents. And now it is connecting me with my husband and children.  Today I made homemade lasagna noodles for the lasagna I am taking to my daughter’s for our Christmas celebration. The time spent doing this was not all that hard. It certainly takes longer than buying noodles and sauce from the store, but I am hoping the taste is exemplary.

We began with the basic pasta dough recipe that came with the pasta machine. This is not the same as the recipe I used yesterday for the spaghetti. I mixed 3 eggs and 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour in the same manner as before, making a well in the center of the flour, cracking the eggs into the well and using a fork, combined the egg with the flour till I had a soft workable dough that was in lumps. I turned it out from the bowl onto the floured board and finished working in all the flour. Then I kneaded the dough for 5 minutes, covered it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.  When the dough is ready, I cut it into 4ths and worked with 1/4 at a time, keeping the rest wrapped to keep it from drying out. We ran the pasta through the machine until we had a long thin strip of dough. Using a Pampered Chef Crinkle cutter, we cut the lengths of lasagna noodles to fit a 9 x 13 pan. First mistake I made was not accounting for the expansion of the noodles when we tossed them into boiling water for 5 minutes. Oops. So we trimmed and such and made it work. In the end, it is all meshed together into layers of cheesy-saucy goodness.

I layered sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, cheese , sauce, noodles….etc. until the top layer and that was covered with sauce and lots of cheese.  We will bake it at my daughter’s house. I also made another loaf of rosemary-Parmesan focaccia bread. I am getting better with this each time and the result today was just perfect, in my husband’s opinion.

I had 1/4 of the dough left after making the lasagna noodles so I decided to try some tortellini, the American version, not the authentic Italian version. More on that below. I again passed the dough through the machine until it was in a thin strip, stopping at the second to last setting. I cut out 2 inch squares, added a small dab of ricotta mixutre, very small, as in less than 1/2 a teaspoon to the center. I wet the edges, folded it into a triangle shape and then pulled the corners back to form the shape of the tortellini. My husband was my helper, all the while stating his German heritage but loving the Italian cooking and foods. It was a memory I will treasure forever, our working together on this whole thing. I put the tortellini in a container with waxed paper between the layers of pasta and froze it for later this week. I will know then if I did it correctly! I am not sure I sealed them well enough and we may end up with a big pot of cheesy-pasta water in the end! Stay tuned for the results of the lasagna and tortellini later this week. For now, I leave you with a few pictures of the tortellini. We were much too busy to remember pictures for the lasagna so I’ll get those when we bake it.  Ciao!