Monday, March 07, 2011

Pasta fresca

Second article under my "Food" category in Google Reader led me to this article this morning ( My main take away from the article is that anyone with a well-stocked pantry can keep themselves fed and that it takes less time to make food from scratch than to go to the market to pick up a missing ingredient. While not universally applicable, it is certainly true for pasta.

I made meatballs over the weekend and the leftovers were sitting in our refrigerator, waiting to be eaten. I decided to see if the pasta claim from the article holds water.

At 11:00 I started mixing the flour and egg. At 11:30 I'm writing this post - photos uploaded to Flickr, meal already eaten. 30 minutes, start to finish. Granted, I already had the sauce made, but any prepared sauce would put one in the same position.

Pasta Fresca with leftover meatballs

serves one

Pasta fresca with meatballs

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten with just a splash of olive oil
Enough sauce/meatballs for one person (4 meatballs and 2 tbsp of the tomato sauce)

for the pasta Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a little hole in the middle of the flour. Pour the egg mixture into the hole. Using a fork, start to mix the flour into the egg, trying to keep the eggy dough mass together. Eventually the dough will be dry enough to turn out onto the counter to finish.

Keep kneading flour into the dough until it is quite stiff. During the kneading the gluten network forms and becomes quite tight. The dough will soften considerably with just 5-10 minutes of resting. Since I didn't give the dough the usual 30 minutes f rest in the fridge, I tried to do as much kneading as possible on the front end.

After the pasta sits for a few minutes, cut it ball in half and roll out each half with a rolling pin. Get it as thin as possible and try to make it into a long, skinny rectangle. The longer the rectangle, the longer the pieces of pasta. On the other hand, the skinnier the rectangle, the fewer strands. Pick something that makes you happy. After both halves have been rolled out, carefully roll the dough sheets into cigars. Using a sharp knife, cut into strips ~ 3/4 cm wide, and then unroll. The pasta is done!
Get some water boiling.

for the sauce I had to pre-reheat the meatballs in the microwave for a few minutes. The tomato sauce went into a saucepan to reheat. As soon as it started to simmer, I added a little bit of water to thin out the sauce, as it had become quite thick in the refrigerator. Keep at a simmer until the pasta is done.

to cook the pasta When the water comes to a boil, add some salt and throw in the pasta. It should only take 2-3 minutes to cook. When it is pretty much done, throw the pasta into the sauce and let it absorb some of the sauce into the pasta. If necessary, thin out with some more water. The starch in the pasta plus the oil in the sauce makes a pretty good emulsion, so as long as it isn't soupy a little bit of water should extend the sauce without detriment.

All done! Eat.


Christine said...

I'm trying to become a better pasta maker (with a machine). It's been a bit of a struggle, but you make it seem easy. My noodles stuck everything and they're always too thick.

Greg said...

That has happened to me before. I think the trick is making the dough at various levels of dryness and getting a sense of what it "should" feel like. The ratio of eggs to flour changes and usually isn't exactly as the recipe states due to moisture in the air. As for thickness - just pretend they are supposed to be however you make them!