There are few things that still intimidate me in the kitchen. The longer it takes, the more challenging and old world it is, the more I love it. However fresh pasta is something I have never mustered up the courage to make. The image of a disappointed Italian Grandma always haunts me when I contemplate the process. Pasta has always seemed daunting, easy to fail, and not worth it (considering you can buy the dried stuff for under $2 ) and who wants to disappoint my imaginary Italian Grandma anyway?
Last week I worked up the courage with the help of the wonderful Carina of Molto Carina, a fresh pasta pro. I finally had my supportive, beautiful and oddly young 'Italian grandma' at my side, to hold my hand through the process, to tell me "it's suppose to look like that", as I skeptically whisked my egg into my well, the older, harder way of making fresh pasta dough.
Lets be real. Fresh pasta is in fact incredibly labor intensive, though there are some modern shortcuts. From mixing the dough, to rolling it out, to drying, the process took about 2 hours, though time flied by as Carina and I talked of our early years in College, and the ridiculous shenanigans we fell into. The hour it took me to get a smooth dough was the most trying, as the dough needs to be throughly kneaded, which I did all by hand. I thought the sticky wad of flour and eggs in my hands would never turn into a proper dough, but lo and behold it had. Grandma would be proud, and Carina approved. We finally rolled out the dough and decided to make pappardelle pasta, a favorite of my not so Italian father, which seemed only right since he had made the rolling pin I was using.
Carina showed me how to roll the dough into a seudo burrito to make cutting a breeze. We hung our pasta on a make-shift rack, and I prayed it would taste half-decent. We bundled the pappardelle into nests and froze half the dough. The other half we made into a scrumptious veggie-mushroom pasta, that was seriously DELICIOUS. We both scarfed it down. Later, my better half and I made a ridiculous goat ragu to top the wonderful fresh pasta, and I have to say, fresh pasta is seriously worth the afternoon activity and elbow grease. Being able to taste the pasta in perfect harmony with sauce, truly makes the difference in the dish. So don't be intimidated! Get in the kitchen, and get the disappointed grandma off your back and get your hands sticky! Buon Appetito!
Fresh Egg Herbes de Provence Pasta Dough
3 1/2 cup, sifted, unbleached all purpose flour (stone ground organic, if possible)
Add to well: 5 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced Herbes de Provence
On a clean counter top or sheet of wax or parchment paper pour flour into a mound and shape into a well (sorta like how you make a well for gravy in your mashed potatoes). In well combine eggs, salt, olive oil and herbes. Slowly whisk egg mixture, making sure to keep the walls of the well intact,l until blended, about 10 minutes. Knead dough until elastic and smooth, about 10-20 minutes. Divide dough into 4 pieces and wrap loosely with plastic and allow dough to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.
*You can also process the ingredients in a food processor for 15-20 seconds, method here.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, gently stretching and pulling as you roll it into a thinner sheet, working with 1 quater of dough at a time. When pasta is about 1/8 inch thick. Flour both sides of the sheet and roll into a circle. Roll dough into 'burrito' and cut to desired thickness. I did about a 1/2 an inch for pappardelle. Unroll and hang on drying rack. Immediately cook or roll into bundles and freeze.
Recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Kale, Sweet Pea and Mushroom Pasta
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, mined
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup peas
1 bunch kale
Parmesan, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
In a skillet, pan with oil. When oil is hot, add onions, cook for 2 minutes, or until golden. Add garlic and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add kale, and cook till wilted. Serve atop fresh pasta.
Caramelized Onion Goat Ragu
3 onions, minced
1 pound, goat meat, cubed
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup stock, veg or beef
2 tablespoons herbes de provence
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt & pepper, to taste
In a medium stock pot, cover pot with oil, and add onions. On high heat add goat cubes. Sear till brown. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, cook for 10 minutes. Add stock, seasonings and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 4-5 hours. Serve atop fresh pasta.