Making fresh pasta has been a goal of mine for a while. I don’t have a pasta roller and I eat dinner alone most nights, so it seemed like a lot of work just for myself. As motivation I decided to invite some friends over for a little pasta party. Work-intensive dishes are more fun when there are more people to appreciate them!
Due to poor time management on my part my guests arrived considerably before the pasta was ready. Luckily we always have wine and beer on hand which distracted them until dinner was served. They forgave me and said that fresh pasta was worth the wait!
I was skeptical as there were almost leftovers, but when I started to clear the table there was a sudden flurry of offers to polish off the last of the pasta. The last serving ended up split four ways. I was mollified.
I don’t have a pasta roller or cutter other than a rolling pin and a bench knife. I decided on wide ribbons of pappardelle spiked with minced fresh rosemary. Basil or parsley would also work nicely. The fresh herbs just add a nice kick and some pretty color to the noodles. The keys to rolling out pasta with just a rolling pin are letting the dough rest long enough for the gluten to relax and using enough flour to prevent sticking.
With fresh pasta the noodles should shine, so I chose a simple red sauce with three ingredients: tomatoes, butter, and an onion. Though the recipe actually says to discard the onion, a number of comments on this post suggest spreading the onion on bread or other such uses which are less wasteful.
This humble sauce is remarkably bright and flavorful, and ridiculously easy to make. It takes less than an hour, mostly unattended. Double the recipe and put the extra in the fridge for your own “jarred” sauce.
Two salads, some bowls full of wide noodles, and a bowl of tomato sauce made for a solid dinner. The wine and the company definitely helped. An appetizer of patience (…beer) and butterscotch bars for dessert rounded out a lovely evening. Next time I’ll start the pasta dough before the guests arrive.
Adapted from Raccoon and Lobster
400 grams (14.1 oz) flour
Â½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and rosemary. Add eggs and oil and mix until combined. Knead until smooth. Add small amounts of water or flour as needed so that dough is neither dry nor sticky. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
2.) Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 6-8 pieces of approximately equal size. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into as thin a rectangle as possible. If the dough shrinks back, let the dough rest for a few minutes and try another piece. When the dough is rolled thinly, fold it over on itself a few times until you have a stack about 3-4 inches wide. Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 3/4″ wide strips. Uncoil and hang noodles until the rest of the dough is cut into ribbons.
3.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook 2-3 minutes until tender. Serve immediately to family and friends.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion
Adapted from Marcela Hazanâ€™s Essentials of Italian Cooking
1 large can (28 ounces, 400 grams) whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano, though I did not use them)
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
salt to taste
1.) In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the tomatoes, butter, and onion. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the pan with a spoon. When the sauce is ready, droplets of fat should float on the surface on the sauce. Remove onion and add salt if needed. Serve warm over pasta. Best enjoyed with good company and a glass of wine.