25 June 2009

Pasta Primo

I have vague memories of making pasta with my mom when I was a kid. Mostly, I remember the strips of noodles hung out to dry over clothes-drying racks. So, although I've helped make pasta in the past, I will consider this my maiden attempt.

I've thought about making pasta before, but the idea finally came to fruition due to a mint-picking romp through my mother's garden. Driving home, the smell of fresh mint awoke a desire in me for pasta with mint. I went in search of a recipe for fresh pasta. Several cookbooks and websites later, I came across this, which I basically halved.

Pasta Primo
(makes about 6 servings)

1 cup semolina
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 small eggs
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
Water as needed (to bind dough)

I made a mound of the two flours plus salt on the kitchen table. I formed a well in the center into which I cracked the eggs and poured the olive oil.

The several recipes I read had instructions for using a fork to simultaneously break the eggs and incorporate the flour. I gave up on that pretty quick as the flour spread in an ever-wider circle on my slick formica table top. I dug into the mess with my hands, adding a little water to help the dough bind to itself.

The ball of dough got wrapped in a piece of plastic and stashed in the fridge for use at dinner time. But not all of it lasted that long. I couldn't resist trying a little sample batch. I rolled out a small piece of dough as thin as I could get it on my grandmother's bread board, dusting generously with flour to prevent sticking. When my arms tired, I folded my rectangular piece of dough over on itself twice and cut it into strips with a pizza cutter.

The noodles cooked in boiling, salted water in a matter of minutes (3-5). For this sample, I simply doused the cooked and drained pasta with some virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with fresh, chopped mint and parmesean cheese. Wow! A great 10am snack!

In the evening when I prepared it for my husband, I dressed it a little differently. I heated a few tablespoons (TBSP) of olive oil in a frying pan and gently sauteed a minced clove of garlic and a finely diced tomato in it. Salt and pepper to taste. Fresh, chopped basil! And parmesan cheese again.

We had our dinner al fresco, paired with a lovely mostly green salad made of lettuce, cabbage, parsley, mint, green onions, and radishes. The salad was dressed in my favorite salad garb: lemon juice, virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

My taste-tester evaluates the dish . . .
I think he liked it!

Cook's Word: besides rolling out the pasta dough, quite a simple dish to make. I love all the fresh herbs that can be paired with a good pasta. And it will be extra yummy later in the summer when we've got some of our own garden-fresh tomatoes! The noodles were considerably thicker than "boughten" ones or noodles you might make with a pasta machine, but they were still delicious and soaked up the tomato juice very well.

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