It’s only appropriate that my first recipe on Pleadings & Pasta be, you guessed it, a pasta recipe.
As a first generation Italian American, I grew up eating my Nonna’s fresh lasagna with homemade sheets of pasta that almost melted in between the layers of rich simmer-all-day tomato sauce, hand grated mozzarella, and fresh basil from our yard.
There was something notably different about the homemade pasta versus the store bought. It was lighter, richer, and seemed to dance off the plate and into your mouth.
I let far too much time go by before learning how to make my own pasta from scratch. However, I made up for that lost time once I started law school and realized cooking, one of my favorite past times, was actually one of the best stress relievers available to me. The beautiful thing was by the end of the creative cooking session,I was more relaxed, and got to eat the fruits of my labor! You can’t beat being full and relaxed.
Now let me disclaim: Making your own pasta is difficult. At least the first few times. Once you realize how the texture should feel, get a sense of the proper rolling techniques, and develop an eye for when the pasta is “al dente” (it cooks much faster than dried store bought pasta) you will proudly sit over your steaming bowl of tagliatelle with a smile on your face that says “I did it!”
Here’s the basic recipe adapted from a combo of Nonna’s recipe and Bob’s Red Mill Flour recipe:
- 1/2 cup Semolina Flour
- 1/2 cup Unbleached Flour
- 2 eggs
- A generous pour of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 table spoons of water
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. If you want to do this old school style, do it on your kitchen counter and make a small little canyon in the mound of flour. You can also do this in your bowl as well.
2. Crack the eggs into the canyon along with the olive oil and water.
3. Incorporate the mixture until the dough is stretchy. It may be a little sticky but avoid adding more flour at this stage.
4. Cover the dough or place in a plastic bag and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
5. Remove dough and lightly flour your rolling surface. Begin to roll the dough to the desired thickness and shape and cut. To make tagliatelle, I rolled the pieces thin and cut long strips in a larger width. (Readers…here’s where I made the biggest mistake over and over. Unless you are looking for an upper body workout, rolling the entire piece of dough is going to wear you out to the point of being too tired to enjoy your pasta. If possible, cut up the dough into smaller pieces so you can easily roll it thin with a rolling pin. Better yet, invest in a pasta machine! It will make for consistently smooth and even pieces of pasta)
6. Put a generous pot of boiling water on the stove. With fresh pasta you want the water to be nicely salted and in a big enough pot to give your beautifully rolled pasta space to cook.
7. Drop the pasta in the boiling water and once it floats to the top (approximately 2-5 minutes depending on cut) it’s done!
8. Drain well and add sauce of choice.
Yes, it’s that simple. The beautiful thing is you can vary this recipe with all unbleached flour, or all semolina. You can add dried basil or other herbs. You can make a beautiful goat cheese and herb mix and stuff your squares of pasta to make ravioli. I would love to hear what kinds of variations you all make on homemade pasta dough recipes. It’s basic enough that you can truly make it your own.
Go forth, be creative, and mangia la pasta!
Eat with all of your heart,