The Pleasure of Pasta Making

Just because it’s late summer, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy pasta.  It’s actually the perfect time of year to enjoy it most!

As the nights cool off, you can finally tolerate the heat of the kitchen again. And you have the best ingredients available:  Field grown tomatoes and basil for fresh marinara sauce.  And of course a salad is the perfect accompaniment should you have lots of lettuce and cucumbers lying around.  But the key is the pasta itself.

In under an hour, you can have homemade pasta that’s so much better than the dried version.  And it’s a ton of fun to make (especially if you have some little kitchen helpers).  The dough can be put through a pasta press or used with an attachment to a KitchenAid mixer. (Sorry, but this does require the right equipment.  You could roll it out, but it might be a little too thick.)

Assuming you have the kitchen tools at hand, here’s a basic recipe to get you started:

IMG_3472Homemade Pasta with Fresh Marinara Sauce
Serves 2.*

Ingredients

For about 1/2 lb of pasta:
2 cups of flour (regular, semolina and/or whole wheat as desired)
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp of water, plus extra
*double the ingredients for a pound

For the sauce:
2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, diced
6 plum tomatoes, diced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper
Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)
1/3 cup of red wine
2 tbsps of butter

Cheese, as desired.

*2 cans of peeled tomatoes
*1 can of tomato puree
*1 small can of tomato paste

Directions

To make the pasta:

In a KitchenAid mixer with a flat paddle attachment, combine flour, oil and salt.  Mix for 30 seconds until blended.  Whisk eggs and water in a separate bowl.  Slowly pour the eggs into the flour mixture and blend over low speed for 2 minutes, until well blended.  IMG_0447Hand knead the dough and add a tbsp of water at a time, if needed, until the dough comes together and isn’t mealy.  IMG_0448Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes up to 2 hours at room temp.  Either use the dough immediately when done or toss with flour to avoid sticking.  Then you are ready to make the pasta!

Either put through the press or if using the attachment, decide which plate you want- spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni, fusili, macaroni….and insert the plate.  When ready, put small chunks of the dough into the attachment.IMG_0449Use the press to push it down.

IMG_0450 Until it starts to come out of the bottom.

IMG_0451You’ll want to let the first batch come out and discard if you care about uniformity (I didn’t).

IMG_0384

For this batch I made bucatini

When you have reached the desired length, use the cutter to release the pasta and place on a cookie tray.  Keep adding the dough and pushing it down and cutting it until all the dough is through the attachment.

IMG_0385Then if cooking right away, you are ready to go.

IMG_0453To make the sauce:

While the pasta dough is resting or any time before, saute the garlic and onion in the oil over medium low for 2 minutes.  Add the fresh tomatoes.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper.  Add in the herbs, as desired.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Add in the red wine and butter.  Cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and allow to continue cooking until sauce reaches desired consistency.IMG_3469* For more sauce or just a thicker one, especially if you want to put meat into it (I’ll add meatballs, sausage links, braciole and/or pork ribs), add the peeled tomatoes (crush with your hand), puree and paste.  [I used a combination of canned San Marzano tomatoes, which tend to have more flavor and less acid, with others (Cento and Tuttoroso are my favorites, and Contadina for paste) so don’t feel compelled to spend the extra money for the fancy tomatoes.]  Season to taste with more herbs, salt and pepper – and keep tasting throughout.  If it’s too acidic, add more butter.  I never add sugar – EVER.  Let the sauce continue to cook (can also be made in advance – slow-cooked for hours is optimal, and even overnight works fine too).

When the sauce is cooked down and the pasta is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  (If cooking pasta right away, add a drop of olive oil to the water.)  Add the pasta. Cook for 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of pasta.  It should rise to the top quickly, but will still need to cook a little more.  Rinse with cold water.  Toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.

IMG_3467

I made rigatoni this time around.

Serve as desired.  I like to combine some whole milk ricotta with some a little of the pasta sauce.  Then toss the pasta into the ricotta-sauce mixture until it’s fully coated.

IMG_3468Then top with sauce and some freshly grated parm.  I made a double batch of sauce for extras and added some hot Italian sausage (that I browned separately) to the sauce while it cooked.
Serve with a salad and a full-bodied red wine for a complete meal.  A barbera or dolcetto would work well, especially in the summer.

IMG_3471

Wine, salad, rigatoni, ricotta, sauce and sausage. All the food groups are covered!

Bon appetito!

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2 thoughts on “The Pleasure of Pasta Making

  1. You are right that fresh pasta is worth the trouble! You can use the dough hook to knead instead of doing it by hand. It should be kneaded until it is elastic, which takes about 10 minutes.

  2. Pingback: Sustainable Agriculture In France: Profile Of The Roupsard Brothers | eatdrinkadventure

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