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After a small dinner party last week, one guest pushed back her chair and threw up her arms. She told us that we must have some tricks to being able to whip up dinners so easily. I’m glad it looked easy – it was hard to balance with a six-month-old!- but we just love cooking and having people over.

So I usually say, no, I don’t have any tricks. But the truth is there are one or two things we rely on to get good food on the table. The first is the freezer – we do large batch preps in advance and when vegetables and meats are in season – so it’s all ready to go. The second is my FoodSaver. If you’ve been paying close attention to some posts you’ll see the FoodSaver bags in the background or note my suggestions to vacuum seal vegetables. That’s how all my freezer foods stay fresh.

Well the folks at FoodSaver noticed and sent me a new FoodSaver 4400 to try out. With it, I’ll show you a third trick – you can freeze pasta dough so you can have it fresh any day you want.

So for dinner guests that say, “I can’t believe you made fresh pasta!” Well, we did…we just did half the prep in advance! This comes in very handy when we get a few flats of eggs from my husbands’ families’  duck farm. One can only eat so much quiche and I’d hate for them to go to waste. So we make large batches of pasta dough and freeze them for later use. This was an experiment we did last year and it’s turned out pretty handy. If you ever make too much dough, want to prep for a dinner party or find eggs on sale, this is a perfect way to make your pasta in advance.

First – an easy pasta recipe:

Nonna makes pasta by eye, she knows just the right amount of flour by looking at it and when the dough is ready by the feel. I have yet to acquire that talent, so instead I use a rule of thumb: about 100g of flour to one large egg. If you want to get technical about it you can weigh your eggs since size can vary and weigh your flour as sometimes it can have more moisture in it and use a 3:2 ratio of flour to eggs. I’m not mathematically inclined, so I’ll stick to my rule of thumb.

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200g all purpose flour
200g semolina flour
4 eggs

This makes about one pound of pasta, or about four servings. Stick it all in a mixer and set it to medium. When the dough comes together, stop the mixer and dump it out on a floured surface and knead it five or six times. Form the pasta into a smooth ball.

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Second – the freezing:

If you’ve doubled (or tripled, or quadrupled) this recipe, measure out one pound balls of dough. Place it into a FoodSaver bag and vacuum seal! Make sure to label them and pop them in the freezer. It’s that easy.

And this new FoodSaver 4400 is slick! The look alone makes it a nice addition to the kitchen (my old one is white) and being able to regulate the uses for dry, wet or marinating makes it much more flexible. Two words of warning if you pick up a FoodSaver: it’s a little addicting – you’ll want to vacuum seal a lot of things – and my one complaint, I always find the power cord way too short. I like to work on my kitchen table, not the counter, so I’m often left scrounging up an extension cord.

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Third – defrosting and making the pasta:

The night before you need to make your pasta, take it out of the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator. Then, about an hour before you are going to roll it out, let it come to room temperature on the counter. Unseal it, cut it into four and start rolling! You can check out this post for directions on how to cut your pasta.

Don’t forget to wipe the sweat off your brow as you hand your guests their freshly made pasta for dinner.

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Disclaimer: FoodSaver provided me with a FoodSaver 4400. I don’t accept products in exchange for a positive review or placement. All of my reviews are 100% honest and based on my opinion and the interests of my community, as I value my readers.

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