Isn’t there always one? You know the one, the one person who, for whatever reason, just loves spaghetti (the pasta shape) and not a single other shape of pasta. No matter how much you explain that it’s all made from the same dough, they still want only spaghetti. Perhaps they like the fact that you can wind the pasta around the fork, or perhaps the fun part is slurping down the strands.
Well, we can slurp with the best of them, and, while we’ve shown you how to make pici — something like handmade spaghetti — we thought that we’d at least try something closer to “real” spaghetti. In this case, it’ll be spaghetti alla chitarra — well, not actually that, either, as you need a special wire-strung board to make those. But, they will look pretty much the same. Spaghetti strands with a square cross-section.
For this you’ll need two things: 1) pasta dough, ready to roll, and 2) a pasta machine.
Roll pasta. Divide your pasta dough into manageable pieces. We find that dividing a single batch of dough (from 1 cup of flour) into four pieces is perfect. Roll each piece through the machine on the widest setting, folding into thirds between rolling, about 5 to 7 times to knead it and make it smooth. Finally, dust with flour, and roll to a medium setting, about 1/16 of an inch thick. Let the dough rest for a minute, then roll through that same setting a second time.
Cut pasta. Most cutter attachments seem to have a cutter for fettuccine (1/3-inch wide) and another cutter that will cut strands about 1/16 of an inch wide. The latter is what we want to use. Dust the pasta sheet heavily with flour, and start it through the cutter. The flour should keep the strands from sticking as they come through on the other side as spaghetti alla chitarra. If you don’t have a pasta cutter, you can roll up the well-floured dough and slice through with a sharp chef’s knife, making thin strands.
Roll into nests. You can let the pasta dry stretched out like spaghetti, or just take a small bundle and roll it around your hand to form a little pasta nest. Let dry until you’re ready to use (or freeze for later) that day.
Boil and serve. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta nests and cook. How long? As with all fresh pasta, this will cook faster than commercial dried pasta. It make take as little as 2 minutes, depending on how long the pasta has dried. So, check early and often. When ready, drain and serve with your favorite sauce.
The first time we tried making these, the dough was sticky and we ended up with a small mess coming out of the cutter. This time we used a lot of flour for dusting and we seemed to be okay. While the pasta doesn’t taste any different, it’s always fun to have another shape that you can make up to match your sauce. And, as with all home-scratched pastas, this shape is easy to master, especially if you have a pasta machine, so five stars.