We happen to buy our eggs directly from our CSA. Why, you may ask? The main reason is that they are better eggs, and we all want better eggs. Now, we can hear you thinking, “The eggs that I buy at the supermarket are good eggs. How can these be better?”
Hmm. We can tell you this: these eggs taste better. Really. We didn’t know it when we first tried them; after all, they tasted like eggs. Then, one week, there were no eggs at the CSA (hens don’t lay on demand), and we bought some eggs at the store. After all, we thought, eggs are eggs. That is, until we made an omelet. It was terrible. Well, not terrible in that it tasted bad, but terrible in that it had no taste. Yep, store eggs are flavorless. We never bought store eggs for eating again. Second, and just as importantly, is we’ve visited the hens and the man who ranches our eggs. The hens roam, they eat bugs, they eat grass, they scratch, and they lay eggs. We spoke with our rancher, Josh. He believes that the best eggs come from hens allowed to act like hens, and that it’s important to be a caretaker. Not just of the hens, but of the soil, the water, the plants, everything. So he moves the hens to new pasture and allows the plants to revitalize the soil before moving the hens back. And he seems to make a living doing so (he also raises turkeys, lambs, and cattle). It’s something we can support because it’s something we believe in, and something we think is worth the extra money. We help keep a local person in business, and we get better eggs, so it’s a win-win.
But, we don’t have eggs at the moment, and we want pasta for dinner, so what do we do?
To give you a hint, go look at the ingredient list for a box of pasta. Yeah, do it now, we’ll wait…. Back? great. Did you see eggs on the list? Not unless they were egg noodles, right? So egg-less pasta is on the menu. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult and we’ll make it together.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- dash salt
- 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
All of the measurements are approximate; in the end, you’ll want a moderately stiff dough, so feel free to add more water or flour as you mix the dough.
Some things to point out in the ingredients list. Flour: we use unbleached all-purpose when we can find it. Why add a chemical just so you have a whiter flour? Salt. Use table salt, it’s a small amount so don’t bother with anything special. Oil. We happen to use a good extra-virgin olive oil for almost everything (we buy it by the gallon — really). Water. Tap water is fine.
Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix together the salt and flour.
Add olive oil. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil.
Add water. Stir in about 1/2 cup of water. If the dough comes together in a ball, great. If it’s still floury, add more water. If it’s sticky, add more flour.
Knead. Turn it out on a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is nice and smooth. If you’re not sure, cut the ball in half with a knife and check to see that the dough is smooth through the center. No flour lumps.
Refrigerate. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
Warm dough. Take the dough out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to roll it out and allow it to warm back to room temperature.
Roll dough. Cut the dough into fourths, and run each piece through your pasta machine until you reach the desired thickness. No pasta machine? Roll it out with a rolling pin. Or a wine bottle. People have been making pasta for a millennia with no tools at all, so improvise. If needed, dust lightly with flour.
Cut dough. Dust with flour and run the pasta sheet through the pasta cutter. Or use a knife. We did the latter for years until we picked up a pasta machine on the cheap.
Dry. Place the cut pasta on a clean kitchen towel (if you have a pasta drying rack, use that), separate the strands, and let dry until you are ready to boil it up.
Boil. Bring 2-3 quarts of salted water to a full boil. Add the pasta, and boil until al dente, about 2 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks fast, so check early and often!
Serve with your favorite sauce.
When we make pasta, it is almost always has eggs (see Basic Pasta Dough). It’s richer in flavor, but this is good, too. And, while it seems as though there are a lot of steps, pasta dough is really forgiving, so it’s easy to make up. It just takes a little planning since the dough rests for a while in the fridge (you could make it the night before), and that bit of planning is worth it. Four stars!