As you’ve probably noticed over the years, we really like to make pasta from scratch. We think it’s the easiest way to improve your pasta dishes: just use fresh pasta instead of the dried stuff. Now, don’t get us wrong; we use the dried pasta, too. Especially for tube-shaped pasta such as elbows, rigatoni, or penne. Since we don’t extrude our pasta dough, it seems that tube-shapes are out.
But are they? If you remember the Strozzapreti, some of those turned out somewhat like a tube, and we made those by hand. And, recently we learned that you can make garganelli at home, and that’s a tube shape, too. So, being the scratchers we are, let’s make up a batch of pasta dough and shape some garganelli. Oh, if you want to know what garganelli means, it’s “small esophagus.” Perhaps it’s best to keep that bit of trivia to yourself until dinner is finished.
So, let’s start shaping. We’ll assume that you have a batch of fresh made pasta dough ready to roll.
Roll out dough. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin. Whatever you use, start with about a quarter of the dough and roll it out very thin. Ideally, less than 1/16th of an inch; however, if you can’t manage that, your garganelli will be thicker, but will taste the same. It helps to give the pasta dough a 5-minute rest near the end of rolling to allow the gluten to relax.
Cut squares. Use either a chef’s knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough sheet into squares about an inch on a side. It took us a few tries to get the shape and size right. Fortunately, the pasta scraps can be rolled into the next piece of dough.
Roll around a pencil. Using a gnocchi board or a sushi mat, place a square on the board so that one of the corners points directly at you. Place the pencil (or chopstick) on the point and roll the square up and around the pencil, while pressing down to form ridges on the pasta. Once rolled, it should look like a piece of penne pasta with the ridges going around the cylinder, instead of along the cylinder. Oh, if you don’t have a board or a sushi mat, you can make smooth garganelli instead.
Dry. Slide the garganelli from the pencil and place on a rack covered with a clean dish towel to dry.
That’s it. Remember that fresh pasta will cook up a lot faster than dried — it’ll only take 2 or 3 minutes.
It took a while to get the hang of shaping these little esophagusus (esophagi?), but, after a bit, we were really rolling along and had them all wrapped up in about 20 minutes. We like the shape a lot, since it’s very similar to penne pasta and it has ridges to hold the sauce. Plus, it’s a tube-shaped pasta that works well for mac ‘n’ cheese. Five stars, because fresh pasta is the best.