Pasta has been on my mind a lot, mainly because my mother has managed to make me feel guilty for not making it more often. And I am not referring to the macaroni from the local supermarket but to the fresh variety one, still made the old-fashioned way and rolled on a table.It used to be that every Italian kitchen table came with a wooden board attached underneath that would be taken out and placed on top every time pasta needed to be made. Here, I have often thought of having one made, as the typical wooden boards that are to be found in kitchen supplies stores just don’t cut it. But, in my laziness, I never have so I now own an extra long rolling-pin that I use on a board half its size, the rare times I am inspired to actually make pasta.
I understand, it’s not hard, and the more one practices, the easier it becomes, but who has the extra half hour to make such a big production of dinner? Still, making pasta is a dying art and the pasta made with a machine just isn’t the same. The surface is too smooth and the sauce doesn’t cling to it the same way. There are gadgets I know will never find a place in my kitchen, pasta and bread makers being two of them.Fresh pasta is a big deal where I come from – there are even stores dedicated to it. Nothing fancy, just small businesses with tiny women (called “sfogline” from the word “sfoglia” which is the dough sheet) in white caps working at long tables rolling sheets of pasta, moulding them into tiny tortellini, cutting them into noodles and a million other shapes. So it’s no wonder I grew up to be a pasta snob, very particular when it comes to cooking times, thickness and consistency. I only order pasta in good Italian restaurants because no one else stands a chance of understanding it the way finicky Italians do.Here is the basic recipe. There really is no trick to it – it’s just a matter of practice and working fast once the dough is rolled as it will dry quickly. Extremely impressive for a date at home, a foodie dinner guest or your dreaded mother in law. It will leave them speechless and no need to elaborate on how easy it really was.
Yields enough for 6
3 1/4 C AP Flour
A Pinch of Salt
1. Stir together flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and crack the eggs in it. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs and then start incorporating the flour, working from the center out. If the dough seems a bit too dry, you can add a little bit of water. Once you have a cohesive ball of dough transfer it to a floured wooden board and start kneading it with the heel of your hands until the dough becomes smooth and supple (approx 10 min or so).
2. Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a cloth and let rest no less than 30 minutes and no more than an hour.
3. When ready to roll, divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions, depending on the size of your board. Quickly flatten your round with the rolling-pin and keep on rolling, turning the dough around several times, until it’s so thin you can nearly see through it. Quickly cut desired shapes (long noodles, pappardelle, squares for ravioli) before proceeding to the next batch.
4. If you are making ravioli, take care to fill them quickly before the pasta dries – otherwise, let your shapes dry on baking sheets lined with parchment until ready to cook.