Happy Monday all. It’s a holiday here in Massachusetts today. It’s called “Patriots Day”, ostensibly to celebrate the founders of our country, but really it’s just an excuse for offices to close during the running of the Boston Marathon.
It’s rare that Marathon Monday is the day after Easter, but this year it means I do have something in common with the thousands of runners, plus their families and supporters. Each year the local television stations send crews out for live coverage of the same huge pasta meal that is served to the runners the night before the race – the traditional “carbo load”. So it seems that we all enjoyed pasta for Easter dinner. The difference (besides the fact that I won’t be running 26.5 miles today) is that mine was homemade.
Among other things this weekend, I learned a new skill! I learned how to make pasta! Truth be told, I don’t know how skillful I am yet, but I learned from a master who learned from his Italian mother and grandmother. He’s been doing it since he was old enough to stand on a stool and get his hands sticky with flour and eggs.
It’s pretty simple, really. A breeze with the right tools, like a handy-dandy Kitchen Aid mixer and some cool pasta making attachments, but so much fun just to work with the dough. I can’t believe I’d never even attempted it before yesterday.
The recipe itself couldn’t be more basic:
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Eggs or 3 Egg Whites, beaten
1-1/2 cups Semolina Pasta Flour
2 Tbsp Water
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
Make little mounds of the semolina and salt on your work surface then make a well in each mound. Add eggs (or egg whites), water and oil. Mix with a fork until combined to make a stiff dough. Knead 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in towel or place in plastic bag and let rest for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out to desired thickness and cut as desired.
First, we doubled the recipe to make two batches. We included fresh, chopped basil in one and left the other plain. Next, we cut each batch into 4 pieces, then ran each piece through the roller attachment several times until it was the desired thickness. Even if you’re eventually going to dry your pasta for later use, it’s important to work quickly at this stage so that it doesn’t become to dry to work with. It’s after the first couple of passes through the roller that you gently fold in whatever you’re using to flavor your pasta, in our case, the basil.
Once you’ve created your wide thin ribbon, you have to change the attachment to one that will do the actual cutting into the shape that you want. We were making fettuccine.
After your dough has gone through the cutting roller and come as beautiful strands of pasta, you must gently make sure they are separated, dust them with a little flour and then cover them with a damp towel. Since we were making our pasta for Sunday dinner, we weren’t going to dry it. We immediately dropped it into some boiling salted water with a little olive oil.
Our fresh basil fettuccine was served with another of my friend’s old family recipes – the gravy (red sauce) that had been simmering on the stove since about 9:00 that morning. It’s chock full of garlic and sausage and meatballs and tomatoes and who knows what else.
I’d love to pry the recipe out of him, but in the meantime I get to enjoy it, and it is delicious!
However you spent your weekend, celebrating a holiday or not, I hope you enjoyed time full of family and friends. Have a great week and I’ll see you back here same bat time, same bat channel.