Tag Archives: Omega Juicer

Playing in the Kitchen: Making Fresh Pasta

Pasta is just about my favorite food group, lol. So I’ve been wondering just how much better it might be if I made it myself.

Actually, I had planned to try making homemade pasta many years ago. I even got an Atlas pasta machine like my friend Dawn Brocco shows in her blog article here. But then I decided to use the Atlas pasta machine for clay crafting (especially buttons to go with hand-knitted sweaters). Obviously, once I had used the pasta machine for non-food, I was never going to chance using it for food prep.

Recently I purchased an Omega Juicer with of course, the idea of using it for a juicer. It’s GREAT at juicing. But I also read that it could be used for extruding pasta. So I decided to try it out for making some pasta. There are several nozzles available that come with the Omega. The one I decided to play with is for thin, round spaghetti.

Setting up to make fresh pasta.
Setting up to make fresh pasta.

Preparing the Pasta Dough

I used a Cuisinart Pro Classic Food Processor fitted with the plastic blade to speed up the kneading process (and also to save my hands for knitting, ha! ha!). But of course you could also hand-mix and knead the dough.

1. Bring the following ingredients to room temperature before beginning:

300 g semolina flour
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs beaten

2. In the food processor, pulse the flour and salt a couple of times to mix these ingredients well.

3. While the processor is running, dribble the whipped eggs through the feed tube a little at a time until all has been added.

4. Continue processing until the ingredients form a smooth ball of elastic dough.

5. Set out the dough on a work surface lightly dusted with all purpose flour. Knead a few times by hand again just to feel like you are working so hard at this, ha! ha!

6. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in a covered bowl. Leave to dough to rest for 15 – 20 minutes while setting up the work area for extruding the pasta and taking a break to take a few sips of wine.

Sorry, no photos of the steps for the dough itself.  I completely forgot about that while listening to the food processor chug away (it did get quite noisy as the dough came together).

Extruding the Spaghetti Pasta

And no photos of the actually extruding the dough with the Omega (that goes so fast that one could use more hands, lol). I promise that next time I do this, I will try to get pictures.

I handled only about 1/4 of the dough at a time as you don’t want it to dry out. Even a 1/4 of that ball of dough makes a lot of spaghetti.

I set up a clean kitchen towel lightly dusted with all purpose flour under the nozzle of the Omega. I also filled a large-holed shaker with some more all purpose flour.  Using one hand, I  pushed the dough down with the plunger into the feed tube of the Omega while dusting the spaghetti coming out of the nozzle. The nozzle has 4 holes; it is important to dust well enough so that the strands of spaghetti do not stick together at this stage. This goes REALLY fast and before the strands get too long, turn machine off and cut the strands off at the nozzle. Then separate the strands and hang on a rack to dry.

The spaghetti hanging on a towel-covered rack to dry.
The spaghetti hanging on a towel-covered rack to dry.

Drying the Spaghetti Pasta

That rack I used is just one of those cheap clothes-drying racks. The towels are cotton I hand-wove in the Acadian style thanks to a workshop from Norman Kennedy a number of years ago. Love those towels, and they look nice with the pasta too, don’t you think? It could almost be fiber art!

The spaghetti is a little messy looking, but toward the end I was getting better with the process. Next time should be easier.  I also imagine that if I had started out with one of the nozzles with thicker holes (e.g. fettucini), it might not have been quite as tedious.

I left the spaghetti to dry over night and then removed it from the rack. I was so anxious to see how it tasted that I didn’t even bother to put it into a storage container. Next step is straight to the cooking pot.

The dried, fresh spaghetti pasta
The dried, fresh spaghetti pasta

Cooking the Spaghetti

Be prepared that fresh pasta is going to cook in a fraction of the time of commercial off-the-shelf pasta. You actually don’t even really have to taste-test it to know … you can see its “doneness” when it is floating on top of the water and sort of puffs up and gets a bit translucent. Perfect al dente.

Cooking the pasta
Cooking the pasta

Drain the spaghetti and its ready to eat. At this stage, I guess it doesn’t really look a whole lot different than regular store-bought spaghetti. But we know differently, don’t we?

The cooked spaghetti
The cooked spaghetti

Eat and Enjoy

Meantime, John had been making a meat sauce ragu to serve with the spaghetti.  I wasn’t really watching closely, so don’t ask me too much about it. I just know that between the fresh pasta and the meat sauce, I think this is the yummiest spaghetti I have ever had.

Fresh spaghetti with homemade meat sauce and freshly grated parmesan
Fresh spaghetti with homemade meat sauce and freshly grated parmesan

We both agreed that the fresh spaghetti pasta was a success. Maybe more work than we are willing to routinely do. But its definitely worth the trouble for a special treat. I would make spaghetti again. And want to try making fettucini sometime, too.

Do you have some experience with making pasta you would like to share? I could certainly use tips now that I am hyped for making more fresh pasta.

p.s. I also wrote about using the Omega Juicer in Is It Corny to Grind Your Own Corn. I’m certainly getting a lot more use out of this Omega Juicer than just juicing!

Is it corny to grind your own corn?

Why in the world would you want to grind your own polenta, cornmeal or corn flour? If you have ever smelled the fragrant aroma of your own freshly ground corn, then you know.

But I didn’t myself realize this until well into a recent experiment to test out the process of grinding my own corn.

John and I figured we’d just use some frozen corn kernels from the store. We figured that if the process worked out satisfactorily, then we’d be set to go next year in CO at summer’s end peak harvest season when fresh corn is plentiful and cheap. If working with fresh corn though, we’d need to add the steps of cutting the kernels from the cob and steaming (both of which have already been done for the commercially frozen, albeit more expensive option).

For the experiment, I started with 2 – 12 ounce packs of frozen corn kernels.

Frozen corn kernels to be dehydrated
Frozen corn kernels to be dehydrated

I spread each 12 ounce bag of frozen corn on a mesh insert tray for my Excalibur dehydrator. (I use a Excalibur 3926T model with 9 trays and a 26-hour Timer.)

Frozen corn kernels spread on dehydrator tray
Frozen corn kernels spread on dehydrator tray

After 6 hours at 125o F, the corn is dry and shrunken somewhat as you see here.

Dehydrated corn kernels
Dehydrated corn kernels

The weight loss is more dramatic at almost 75%. The original 24 ounces of corn weighs just 6.4 ounces after drying.

Closeup of dehydrated corn kernels
Closeup of dehydrated corn kernels

After the dehydration process, 24 ounces of frozen corn had shrunk down to filling a pint glass jar to the top.

24 ounces of dehydrated corn filled a pint jar to the top
24 ounces of dehydrated corn filled a pint jar to the top

Screw a lid on the jar to seal airtight until ready for grinding.

Dehydrated corn in jar ready to be sealed with screw lid
Dehydrated corn in jar ready to be sealed with screw lid

I do have a hand-crank stone mill grinder, but wanted to try my new Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer, Black and Chrome. Although this experiment with the dehydrated corn has just a relatively small amount for hand grinding, my plan is that I would prefer to use my electric Omega for larger amounts.

Originally I got this Omega Juicer for juicing (well, of course!). But this workhorse machine can do so much more, such as grinding, making pasta, etc. (and I am planning to eventually put it through all its paces – so stay tuned for more of my experiments and adventures).

So in anticipation of next year’s bounty of corn at the end of the summer, I will test the Omega right now for how well it does as a grinder.

Using the Omega Juicer for grinding corn
Using the Omega Juicer for grinding corn

Here is what the ground corn is looking like as it comes out of the end cap of the Omega Juicer.

Closeup of first pass of grinding corn in the Omega Juicer
Closeup of first pass of grinding corn in the Omega Juicer

AND – here is where I was stunned by the fragrant aroma of the corn as it was being ground. If you can imagine the wonderful aroma of baking cornbread (but of course nothing is being baked — yet!) That is about the only thing I can liken it to. I wish you could have been here to enjoy it with me.

I would consider that the results of the first pass of ground corn using the Omega Juicer’s auger mechanism is suitable for polenta / corn grits. We LOVE grits, so I can see that I would definitely sometimes just want to stop at this stage without a second pass of grinding. But since this is an experiment with just a small amount, I’ll have to defer using this batch for grits.

Coarsely ground corn suitable for polenta
Coarsely ground corn suitable for polenta

So now I do a second pass of grinding the corn.

Second pass of grinding corn using the Omega Juicer
Second pass of grinding corn using the Omega Juicer

The results are a more finely ground cornmeal consistency. We LOVE cornbread, too, so I can tell we won’t have any problem using this.

Ground cornmeal
Ground cornmeal

When the cornmeal is transferred back into the pint jar, it reaches just a bit under the normal fill level – i.e. a scant 2 cups.

About 2 cups of ground cornmeal
About 2 cups of ground cornmeal

Sealing the jar airtight will keep as much of the fresh, fragrant aroma as possible. But just as spices can lose their best aroma soon after being ground, I think it is probably best to only grind the amount of corn one is planning to use in the relative near-term (perhaps 1 week?). The results of this experiment shows that the volume of dehydrated whole kernels is negligibly greater than the ground volume. I can get the boon of the wonderful fragrance of the freshly ground corn in my favorite recipes without sacrificing storage space.

Seal the jar again until ready to use
Seal the jar again until ready to use

So call me corny if you want. But I couldn’t be more satisfied, nor be enjoying myself so much, when doing home-y things like grinding my own corn. I hope this inspires you to try it yourself if you have not already.

Disclosure: I have included Amazon affiliate links for the Excalibur Dehydrator and Omega Juicer products I personally purchased and used in photos to go along with this blog post. If you click on a product link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission in exchange for the sales referral. There is no obligation on your part to purchase, nor sharing of your private information.