Since we liked the Lemon Dill Risotto with Peas so much, we decided that we’d try doing something similar with pasta. Specifically, a Lemon Dill Fettuccine that we had the other night along with some peas and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. It made for an easy, flavorful dinner that took only a few minutes to whip up. You can make it, too; it’s not difficult to make pasta dough.
We think that everyone should make fresh pasta from time to time. It’s easy, and it tastes a lot different from store-bought dried pasta. It’s so different, that we’ve read that in Italy, dried pasta is thought of as a different ingredient from freshly made pasta. Or, each has its place, and some recipes are specific for dried, and some specific for fresh. Now, if you’re thinking you can get away with those pouches of “fresh” pasta from the store, please look at the outdate on the side, and decide for yourself whether that’s anything you’d consider fresh (that said, when we were in New York, there were some bodegas that had real fresh pasta).
We don’t specify the type of flour in this recipe. If you wish, you can use the traditional Italian “00” flour for pasta, but all-purpose will be fine. Us? We use 50% Sonora White whole-wheat and 50% all-purpose. The whole-wheat gives the pasta a toothiness that we like, plus Sonora White is a traditional wheat grown nearby. Ideally, eggs should be from hens that are pastured. You probably won’t find such eggs at a supermarket, but check a farmers’ market, or even look on Craigslist for neighbors who have extra eggs for sale. You’ll be glad you did. You note that we don’t call for water. It’s been our experience that one large egg and the juice from one lemon is the perfect amount of liquid for 150 grams of flour. If you find your dough too dry, you might need to add a teaspoon or two of water, and that’s fine.
Procedure in detail:
Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl mix together the flour(s) and salt.
Add dill. Pinch the fronds of the dill off the stems and pile them up. Use a chef’s knife to cut the fronds into pieces about 1/4 inch in length, then add them to the flour mixture and stir to coat. Make a well in the center where all the liquid ingredients will go.
Add egg, lemon zest and juice. We zest the lemon right into the flour mixture, crack the egg, and, finally, juice the lemon and add the strained juice (seeds would be bad) to the mix. Using your finger, start swirling around the liquids, gradually incorporating more and more flour mixture. In a minute you should have a shaggy dough.
Knead. Turn out the shaggy dough onto a clean work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. With the dill in the dough, it won’t become completely smooth, but you’ll be able to tell that the flour part does smooth out.
Rest. Wrap in plastic and let rest for at least 30-45 minutes to give the gluten a chance to relax and the dough to hydrate fully. If you wish, you can let the dough rest longer; just place it in the refrigerator and take it out about 30 minutes before you shape the pasta.
Shape. We went with fettuccine, but you can make pretty much any shape you want. We provide tutorials for a lot of shapes; just click here.
Boil. Cooking fresh pasta is just like cooking dried pasta, only it generally takes less time. Depending on the shape, it may be done in as little as 2 minutes, or as long as 10-12, so check your pasta often.
As we said above, we had our pasta with some peas (we just put them in the same pan as the pasta while it boiled), a bit of Parmesan, a sprinkle of red pepper, black pepper, and olive oil. It made for a great dinner with half the flavors built right into the fettuccine. Five stars.