Fresh Pasta

February 25, 2010

I believe there is one and only one problem with getting better at cooking: you start wanting more and more gadgets. At first these gadgets are simple and multi-purpose: a food processor, a rolling pin, a dutch oven. But suddenly, the things you want become more obscure and single-purpose: a candy thermometer, a pastry cutter, a dough crimper.  And the more time you spend in specialty cookware stores, the more obscure, single-purpose items you want. Like, oh, I don’t know… a $15 milk frother. To make your own lattes. It’s sitting in my silverware drawer. It’s cheaper than Starbucks?

After the milk frother, I decided I was cutting myself off. NO MORE GADGETS. Immediately after I promised myself this, however, I remembered how much I’ve wanted to make my own pasta. My mom did this a few times while I was growing up, and those times made for some truly awesome dinners. Despite these fresh pasta memories, I decided not to give in to yet another gadget.

But then today, I was reading a few chapters in The Art of Simple Food. The ever-encouraging Alice Waters said this about making pasta using a rolling pin instead of a pasta machine. “The rollers of the machine create perfectly smooth noodles, while hand-rolling results in interesting surface irregularities for the sauce to cling to, adding nuance and flavor. It’s worth rolling the dough by hand once to taste and feel the difference.” And just like that I was sold.

Well, it was hard to get the dough to the right consistency. I actually threw out my first batch of dough that was far too dry. I started over with 1/4 cup less flour than the recipe called for. I rolled out the pasta thin, then cut it into strips. Not very uniform in shape, but they got the job done. The pasta only took me about 4 minutes to cook. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I wasn’t really sure what kind of sauce to make, but when I tasted how delicious the first lone “test piece” I made was all on its own, I decided to keep it simple. After I cooked the pasta, I sauteed some garlic in butter, then tossed the pasta with it, and put a whole bunch of parmesan cheese and black pepper on the finished product. I roasted a bunch of vegetables and put out some olives. And it was delicious.

In summary–hard to get the dough to the right consistency, then multiple steps of moderate difficulty, but so worth it.

FRESH PASTA (adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

Recipe

Dump flour on a dry surface and make a pile. Create a little well in the middle. Place the eggs and egg yolks in the well. Begin to gently scramble the eggs with a fork, mixing in a little more flour from the sides of the well with each circle of the fork. When the dough gets too hard to mix with a fork, use your hands. Gently knead the dough. It should be a little sticky. Add a little flour at a time if it’s too sticky. Add a little water if its not sticky enough. Wrap in Saran Wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour.

Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a well-floured surface. Roll it out as thin as you’d like. Cut into pasta strips. Place pasta strips in heavily-salted, vigorously boiling water. Stir occasionally. Pasta will be done in 2-6 minutes, depending on the thinness of the strips. Keep taking pieces out, running them under cold water, then testing them for doneness.

RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLE BUTTER AND GARLIC SAUCE

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

4 cloves chopped garlic

Black pepper

Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Recipe

Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Lightly brown garlic. Add pasta. Add black pepper. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Serve on a plate. Garnish with more black pepper and cheese.

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8 Responses to “Fresh Pasta”

  1. Kate Says:

    yumm! i have never rolled pasta by hand, but yours looks great. If you are ever interested in rolling pasta with a pasta roller, you can borrow mine!

  2. Kate Martinez Says:

    most definitely!!

  3. nelie Says:

    Alice Waters is how I ended up making homemade pasta too! We actually just made it tonight with a locally made pesto that used pistachios… DELICIOUS! xoxox

  4. Julia Says:

    This sounds so delicious.

    But…instructions/tips for roasting vegetables, please? Mine always turn out too dry.


  5. […] HAND ROLLED PASTA  Hearty and chewy. The cratered imperfections from hand-rolling create traps for spices, cheese, […]


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