Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pasta Revelations

At some point in the past two years of blogging, I moved away from pasta. It was easy, I had done it before, it was kind of boring to eat and to make. I was wrong. It is simple; I was right about that. When we made four pasta sauces in class on Tuesday, all the recipes involved minimal ingredients and the simplest of techniques (simmer, stir, repeat), but ended up so delectable. Chef Tim mixed together an al fredo in five minutes with like five ingredients that was oh-so creamy yet still light and which clung to the pasta like dust to a TV screen. He boasted that people would pay a lot of money for that simple pasta with sauce, and they wouldn't be disappointed.

I took care of the puttanesca and making the pasta. Our pasta ended up a bit on the dry side (first time), which made it incredibly difficult to roll out. Chef rolled his perfect ball of dough into a nearly paper-thin sheet in minutes. I stood over mine sweating some flavoring into the tagliatelle that was anything but smooth and even. But I actually turned out to love my pasta with all its flaws. Chef advised making homemade pasta that looks like homemade pasta--makes perfect sense. But because my sauce had so many flaws, the sauce clung to the ridges and bumps perfectly. Usually, I douse my pasta with chunky sauce. I had never realized this was because the pasta itself was lacking. The puttanesca turned out fine (not as good as the boys' sauce, but still good), but I didn't need or want the chunks of cubed tomato. The briny-tomato juice had all the flavor of the nicoise olives and capers and stuck sublty and kindly to the outside of the wide noodles. The homemade pasta was so good, I don't know that I'd buy dry noodles ever again.

1 pound flour
4 eggs
a tablespoonn or so of olive oil

Make a mountain of flour in a large bowl, leaving some of the pasta to the side to be mixed in as needed. Make a well in the mountain with a fork. Crack the eggs into the well. Sprinkle with salt. Incorporate the eggs into the flour by stirring with a fork. Add olive oil once about three-fourths of the flour is wet. Turn sticky dough out on a floured surface. Work and knead the dough with your palm, incorporating more flour as needed until the doughs stays in a ball and has a smooth surface. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Remove dough from fridge. Turn out on floured work surface. Roll dough until it is thin enough to read a newspaper through. Cut thin strips of pasta with a pizza cutter. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for two minutes or until cooked through.

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
4 cups canned tomatoes and their juice
12 nicoise olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 anchovy filet
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a saute pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers and oregano, bring to a boil, reduce heat so it simmers and cover for 10 minutes while simmering. Add the anchovy filet, stir to incorporate. Season to taste. Let simmer another 10 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, season with parsley and basil. Serves four.

Thanks to Jessica who took the photos.


Simon said...

nice hat.

Jess said...

you are so inspiring. you make it look and sound easy! I really want that alfredo sauce recipe you mentioned... mmm. maybe I'll actually make some homemade pasta, too. the recipe, in its shortness, looks absolutely approachable.

Jess said...

wait, by "pasta" did you mean "flour" in the recipe directions?

Lainey Seyler said...

oh yes! good catch on that pasta mistake. will change it now. :)

Anonymous said...

Noni would be so proud! You look very happy in your chef hat.

Maria said...

You've inspired me to make pasta. Now I just need to find the time.