I like to think that before there were ever any fancy metal Pasta Making machines, or Non-Stick Rolling Pins – this was the way the Italians made pasta in their homes from scratch.
Ok, minus the food processor 😉 (which actually isn’t necessary in making pasta, but for spinach pasta – it’s a must).
Ever since visiting Mario Batali’s Eataly in Flatiron, NY – a small market of Italian groceries and little eateries inspired by the streets if Italy – I’ve been inspired to try and make my own pasta at home. One of my favorite spots for authentic Italian pasta in DC is tucked away in the streets of Adam’s Morgan, called Pasta Mia. But unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest restaurants to get into on a Friday night, and is notorious for closing randomly, and unexpectedly without notice. If you’re commuting from Northern Virginia – like I do – you often have to plan around rush hour to get there a little before 6 pm (which is about a half hour before they open for service) to get in line. Otherwise – there’s a chance you won’t get to eat, or sit down until 8pm.
One of my favorite dishes is the spinach fettucine with porcini cream sauce – which – on a night I wasn’t willing to take the hike to DC – I attempted to recreate at home. And yes – I was a little intimated by the prospect of making my own pasta for the very first time, without a pasta maker or a proper rolling pin – but then I considered that the Italians hadn’t always had electric pasta making machines lying around in the old days, and that a proper rolling pin isn’t that far off from a clean wine bottle. So with that thought in mind, I reminded myself – where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? So here’s to satisfying cravings, and making things happen with a few every day kitchen tools.
I have to say – it was a bit of a work out on the forearms, having to roll out the pasta into a thin sheet with that giant bottle of Chianti. However, keep in mind that the thinner the sheet, the more ‘little ribbons’ you’ll have in the end; and if you have an actual pasta making machine laying around somewhere – congratulations. You just saved yourself about 20 minutes of rolling, pushing, and meticulous cutting.
With that said, making your own pasta at home is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to keep the pasta at a consistency that isn’t sticky, and isn’t too crumbly – which you can manipulate with the addition of flour, or water.
Ingredients For Pasta:
- 4 oz. of spinach cooked fresh / frozen – squeezed dry.
- 3 cups of all purpose flour or semolina flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (to keep it stretchy)
- After you squeeze the spinach dry, puree with the eggs.
- Put the flour on a flat surface, and make a well in the center of the mound (just high enough to contain the wet mixture).
- Pour the wet mixture into the well and combine, gradually forming a thick paste.
- Use your fingertips to incorporate the rest of the flour to form a ball. Gradually add more flour until the consistency of the ball does not stick to your fingers. Add more water if it begins to crack.
- Knead pasta for 5-10 minutes, or until it springs back to touch. If you cut the ball in half – there should be visible air bubbles.
- Dust the ball, wrap it in plastic, and leave the pasta to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Roll out with a rolling pin, or a large wine bottle. Dust with flour if it sticks.
- Fold the sheet of pasta horizontally (to make the cutting easier) and cut the pasta however thick or thin you’d like.
- Dust the ribbons of pasta so they do not stick.
- Either store them in a container in the fridge for later use, or cook them immediately.
Ingredients for Truffle Porcini Cream Sauce
- 2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of truffle oil
- truffle salt and ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Soak the mushrooms in 2 cups of cold water for about 10-20 minutes
- If needed, chop into bite size pieces.
- Place the mushrooms in a colander over a bowl.
- Boil about 2 cups of salted water, and pour through the colander.
- Save the mushroom stock.
- Heat the oil, salt and pepper in a frying pan and add the garlic.
- Add the drained mushrooms, cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add 3/4 cup of the mushroom stock and reduce for about 10 minutes.
- Add cream and parmesan to the mixture and heat through until it thickens.
- Turn off the heat, and stir in your pasta noodles.
- Dust with parmesan cheese, and enjoy.