Right before we went on our mini-vacation, we had some tomato sauce sitting in the refrigerator that we wanted to use. Even if we’re only gone for a few days, we try to clear out those odds and ends that migrate towards the back of the fridge when you’re not looking. We immediately thought of just cooking up pasta, but, rather than use plain pasta, we thought that we’d amp it up a little.
If you get into the habit of making pasta from scratch (it’s not hard; we do it at least once a week), you start changing it up a bit here and there: using whole-wheat flour, using rye flour, adding flavorings (one of our favorites is Lemon Pepper Fettuccine), or, as here, adding some herbs.
Now, if you’ve made a lot of pasta over the years, you know exactly how this is going to go, but, if not, just follow along and you’ll have scratched up enough pasta for two in no time flat.
We know that many pasta recipes call for 00 flour, but we don’t bother. We tried it once and really didn’t notice a huge difference, so now we use flours that we have on hand. For the egg, we always use one from pastured hens. The eggs just taste better.
Procedure in detail:
Combine dry ingredients. Place the rosemary, salt, and flour in a medium-sized bowl and swish everything together with your fingers. You might as well use your fingers, since you’ll be kneading the dough later, anyway. Plus, we think that using your hands for mixing gives you a real feel for how ingredients behave. Once swished, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
Add egg and oil. Add the egg and the olive oil to the flour mixture. We never measure the oil; instead, we just pour in what seems to be a tablespoon, and it’s always worked, so feel free to do the same. Once added, use your finger to swish the egg and oil together. Keep swirling and swishing, gradually incorporating flour, until everything is mixed and you have a dry crumbly mixture.
Add water. This is the only tricky part: you want to add enough water to make a dough that’s easy to knead, but not sticky. So, add water, about a tablespoon at a time, mixing it in completely until the dough comes together.
Knead. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. We simply count the number of strokes and stop when we get somewhere above 150. Generally, by then, our dough is nice and smooth. It won’t hurt to go longer; this is one dough that you cannot over-knead.
Rest. To make it easier to roll, wrap the pasta in plastic and let stand on the counter for at least 30 minutes. If you won’t be shaping for several hours, that’s okay; just place the dough in the refrigerator and take it out to warm for about 30 minutes before you start.
Shape. You have many choices when it come to shaping pasta. If you want to go with the completely hand-formed pasta, we suggest either cavatelli, or orecchiette. If you have a pasta machine, you can easily make something like papperdelle (1×3 inch strips of pasta) or strozapretti. We went with a new shape of pasta that we like to think we invented, but, knowing that there are thousands of pasta shapes, we wouldn’t be surprised if someone else has made it before us. Check out tomorrow’s post to see the latest and greatest pasta shape.
To cook. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil until tender on the outside, but with a slight toothiness in the center, or, as they say in Italian al dente. The length of time depends on the shape, the thickness, and how long the pasta dried between shaping and boiling; we’ve had some done in 2 minutes, others in 10 minutes.
It’s home-scratched pasta! With rosemary! What’s not to like? And, it’s no more difficult than any other pasta. Years ago, we were impressed with restaurants that had one or two dishes featuring house-made pasta, but, now that we know how easy it is, we don’t understand why it isn’t just standard when you go out to eat, especially at Italian restaurants. An easy five stars.