Spaghetti and tomato sauce is truly so comforting. Growing up, it was usually served as a quick snack or easy lunch of dried spaghetti noodles boiled and tossed with a jarred marinara. These days, though, I crave something a little more homemade. I love experimenting with different tomato sauces from a classic marinara to tomato butter sauce. Very, very loosely inspired by Amatriciana (if it were vegetarian), this variation features chewy sun-dried tomatoes, onion, red pepper flakes, a bit of ground garlic, and crushed tomatoes simmered together until the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. Tomatoes, presented two ways, yield a highly savory and, well, tomato-forward recipe. Pecorino romano cheese provides a necessary funk to balance the tomatoes.
Let’s Make Homemade Spaghetti!
For the homemade spaghetti, I partnered with Hamilton Beach (using their Electric Pasta and Noodle Maker, which quickly extrudes a variety of homemade pasta shapes from penne to angel hair to spaghetti to fettucine.
The Pasta Making Process The process works through automatic extrusion. You feed the machine dry and wet ingredients, and the mixer automatically kneads the dough. After a resting period, it begins extruding the dough into the desired shape. The process is pretty quick and mostly hands-off, which is super nice if you’re preparing a sauce to go with it! It’s also a fun project to get kids involved. As a bonus, since all of the kneading occurs inside the mixer, it’s much less messy.
How to use the Hamilton Beach Electric Pasta Maker
- Assemble the pasta maker according to the instructions provided. Slowly add your dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. The screen has a built-in scale to indicate the weight of the dry ingredients so you can accurately measure everything.
2. Align and secure the lid in place. Choose your desired method of pasta making by selecting ‘Quick Pasta’ or ‘Pasta’ depending on how much time you have. Hit ‘Start’ then slowly pour the wet ingredients through the liquid well on the lid.
3. The machine will automatically proceed to the next steps. First, it will knead the dough; you are looking for a texture similar to a crumbly pie dough (video of the desired texture here). The dough should feel moist but there shouldn’t be large clumps. Next, the dough rests to allow the gluten to relax.
4. After the resting period, the machine will automatically extrude the dough. The first minute or two of extrusion will be slow and the pasta will be drier, but after that period, it should feel soft and moist without sticking to itself. I like to dust the pasta with semolina flour to prevent any sticking (just in case).
5. Cook the noodles in salted boiling water until they float and reach al dente texture. For me, this typically takes 4 to 6 minutes for spaghetti, fettuccine, and wider noodles.
Tips, Tricks, and My Thoughts
Tips and Tricks
- Use the instruction guide’s recipe ratio when starting off. Not only is the dough ratio different than handmade pasta, but also the dough will not extrude properly if the ratio is off. For best results, use a scale. The Consumer Test Kitchen recommends using semolina flour; I use a mix, but you can try using 100% semolina and see how you like it.
- For colored pastas, replace the water with a vegetable or fruit juice.
- Keep extruded pasta covered with a clean kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out (or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days).
I love that the pasta maker is electric, so it takes care of pretty much everything from weighing the dry ingredients to kneading to extruding. This makes clean-up much more efficient! I was worried about having to clean the parts, but the cleaning process is pretty straightforward. I recommend washing the mixing bowl in warm soapy water and using a sponge to scrub out any pieces of dough in the crevices. For the extruder shaping discs, let them dry completely, then use the cleaning tool to poke out the dried dough.
The pasta machine does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you practice a couple of times, it’s quite smooth. For example, if you don’t use the right ratio, the dough will not extrude properly. If you don’t securely align all of the pieces, you may have issues as well.
Troubleshooting the Pasta Maker
- How do I know if the dough is too dry? The dough should feel crumbly, but still have a moist texture. If it feels extremely sandy, and the machine is not able to extrude the pasta, the dough is too dry. The dough may too be too dry if you notice your pasta strands are breaking apart easily. Fix: Add an additional 10 ml of water to the dough, knead it for a minute or two, then try extruding again.
- How do I know if the dough is too wet? The dough should not clump together in large pieces (especially around the mixing paddle). If the dough is too wet, it will struggle to extrude at all — or if it extrudes, the pasta might stick together. Fix: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour to the dough, knead it for a minute or two, then try extruding again.
- The machine is extruding very slowly. How do I fix this? At the beginning, the extruding process happens slowly. But if the machine appears to be starting and stopping extruding, the dough may be too wet or dry; or, the mixing bowl may not be securely aligned.
This post is brought to you by Hamilton Beach. I received compensation in exchange for this collaboration. All opinions are my own. Thank you.
Homemade Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce Recipe
- Hamilton Beach Electric Pasta Maker
For the homemade spaghetti:
- 350 grams all-purpose flour
- 50 grams semola rimacinata or semolina flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 egg
- 90 ml water
For the tomato sauce:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, use 1/2 teaspoon for a milder version
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1-28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed, for a more homogeneous sauce, or hand-crushed for a more rustic sauce
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pound fresh spaghetti
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese, plus more if needed
- Olive oil, for drizzling
For the homemade spaghetti:
- Assemble all required parts for the pasta maker (refer to the instruction manual for more details). Affix the ‘Thick Spaghetti’ shaping disc to the extruder.
- Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Plug in the electric pasta maker. Tap ‘Zero scale’ to tare the scale. Slowly pour in the dry ingredients towards the back of the pasta maker’s mixing bowl (this prevents any flour from getting stuck in the front extruder area). As you add the ingredients, the display screen will note the weight; you should have added 400 grams total.
- Beat the egg until homogenous in the pasta maker’s liquid measuring cup. Pour in water and whisk until combined.
- Next, lock in the mixing bowl lid. Choose ‘Pasta’ to start the automatic pasta maker. You will see the liquid amount on the screen (note that unlike the dry scale, the listed amount will not change as you add liquid). Press ‘Start/Stop’ to start the pasta making process. You will hear the motor running and the mixing paddle will begin mixing. Slowly pour in the wet ingredients into the liquid well on the lid until fully combined. You may need to use a fork or small spatula to push any remaining bits through.
- At this point, the pasta maker will continue kneading the dough before allowing it to rest for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle a bit of semola or semolina flour on a large baking sheet or tray.
- Once the pasta maker finishes the waiting period, it will begin extruding the dough. For the first minute or so, the dough may extrude very slowly, and appear slightly dry. Eventually, it will begin to speed up and the dough will appear more moist. Allow the pasta to extrude until it reaches 12 inches, then use a knife or bench scraper to firmly cut it. Wrap the cut dough in a nest and place on the baking tray. Cover with a kitchen towel to prevent drying out. Repeat, allowing the pasta to extrude to 12 inches, then cutting it and wrapping it in a nest.
- Cook pasta immediately or store in an airtight container (make sure it's generously dusted with semolina to prevent sticking) in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For the tomato sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or saute pan on medium heat.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to brown and oil turns a light orange.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in red pepper flakes. Saute for 30 seconds until aromatic.
- Add in the onion, then cook, stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent. A bit of browning is okay, but reduce the heat as necessary to prevent burning.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt (don’t add too much here, because the sun-dried tomatoes are salty too), black pepper, and the garlic powder. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- To cook the pasta, set a large pot of water to boil. Generously salt the water, then cook the spaghetti for 4 to 6 minutes, or until it’s floating and just barely al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- Transfer the spaghetti to the tomato sauce, and add a few tablespoons of pasta water, stirring to coat. Simmer spaghetti in sauce for a minute or two until the sauce clings to the pasta. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Loosen the sauce if desired with more pasta water.
- Remove from the heat, then stir in the pecorino romano cheese until combined.
- Divide pasta amongst serving bowls. Grate with more cheese and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Enjoy!
- If the pasta is sticking to itself, it’s too wet and you will need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour and re-knead the dough before extruding again.
- If the pasta is breaking apart very easily, it’s too dry, so you should add about 10 ml of water and re-knead the dough before extruding again.
- If the dough appears to be the right consistency, but is very, very slowly extruding (and the pasta maker keeps starting and stopping), make sure the mixing bowl is fully aligned with the back of the machine and try again.
- Pecorino romano is necessary to cut the acidity of the tomato, so it’s best not to substitute it with another cheese.