28 February 2010

Wide pasta with fresh tomato sauce

Tonight's pasta left me wanting more.  As I was making the dough I added another egg because it felt too stiff and dry, but adding an egg made a sticky mess of the whole thing and it took ten minutes to really incorporate it into the mass of already-formed dough.  There is nothing like the feel of well-kneaded pasta dough; it's softer than silk, pliable, fragrant, and almost cool to the touch.
I made sauce while the dough rested.  A carrot, two stalks of celery, an onion, and half a yellow pepper in a big glug of olive oil.  Salt, pepper, and a more-than-generous three-finger pinch of marjoram.  For the past six months I've been using lots of marjoram; it adds a sweet, floral brightness that I can't seem to get enough of. Then a large ziploc bag of plain, frozen tomatoes, quickly cooked last fall to make it easier to put them into gallon-sized freezer bags.  We lay them flat and stack them on the freezer shelves.  Uffda, they were acidic, though, so I added a tablespoon of sugar and let everything simmer for a half hour or so. 
My pasta machine's rollers go from 7 - the widest setting, to 1 - the narrowest, and the narrower the opening the thinner the pasta.  I usually roll my pasta dough to a 2 or 3, making it thin but still with some body and heft.  The dough was rolling out nice, and some of the pieces were extremely long, so long I had to cut them into thirds to fit on the table. I decided to hand cut the noodles tonight, and it's easy if a little flour is sprinkled on the sheets of dry-to-the-touch-but still-pliable dough.  I rolled it up and cut it into 1/2 - 1 inch widths - I wanted a big, wide pasta this evening.
I've been having a little trouble lately with fresh pasta cooling and clumping up after it's cooked, so I decided to take the pasta right from the water and mix it immediately with the sauce.  It cooked quickly - two minutes or so, and I used a pasta scoop to retrieve the long, wide noodles.  With water still streaming off the noodles, I transferred them to the sauce pan, and then stirred them gently to coat them in sauce.  From there the pasta went into oven-warmed bowls, and into the dining room.
What was it that made it so good tonight?   The yellow pepper added sweetness to the sauce, and the summer tomatoes were bursting with flavor.  The bite of fresh pasta can't be beat, especially when it's coated with just-cooked memories of last summer.  Spring doesn't seem all that far off now.


  1. Nothing like fresh pasta. I make it all the time and it is so far superior to the dry stuff. It's almost like they are two different things. I like to mince fresh basil and press it into the dough while running it through the machine. Then serve it up with some good olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper. Bada bing.