Monday, January 17, 2011

Handmade Pasta and To-Die-For Tomato Sauce

If you have never tried making pasta at home, you are seriously missing out on some fun times and extraordinarily delicious food. I am lucky enough to have a pasta maker, but if you don't it would still be possible, with a bit more work. Surely that would make it taste even better though?!

Most pasta recipes are very similar. Here is the one I use, which came from my little brother, who happens to be a chef (a very handy profession to have in the family!).

Pasta Dough 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups white flour (I've had success with half white, half wholemeal too)
1 Tbsp water
A pinch of salt

Combine the eggs, oil and water. Add the flour and salt, mix until combined and then knead to a smooth, elastic dough. Add more water if the dough is too dry. Wrap in Gladwrap and rest in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to a day. I find the dough best (easier to use) after 6 or so hours in the fridge.

Roll the dough into flat sheets; I use number six on the pasta maker, but this is personal preference. Then, cut free hand or use the pasta machine to cut into spaghetti or fettuccine. To cook, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt added. Add pasta (do in batches if you have a lot) and cook for only a few minutes - keep watch, it's very quick, and you don't want to overcook it! Pour cooked pasta into a colander to strain the hot water off quickly, and it's ready to go! If you are making your own pasta sauce, chef's always save a bit of the pasta water to add to the pasta sauce just before serving; about two tablespoons is plenty. The starch in the water helps to thicken the sauce. This recipe makes enough for about four people, but it all depends in how hungry you are. Sometimes Paddy and I can eat an entire batch between us!

Rolling dough into flat pieces. Paddy is an excellent hand model.

Now, into fettuccine...

Pasta on the clothes rack, ready to use.
Now, for the to-die-for tomato sauce. This a modification to a recipe that has been floating around in the blog world for a while. I decided to give it a try with fresh tomatoes (the original uses tinned), and it was utterly amazing.

To-Die-For Tomato Sauce
1 kg fresh, in-season tomatoes
50 grams butter
1/2 an onion, peeled but not chopped

First, peel the tomatoes. Then, cut out the hard core and dice them roughly. Place tomatoes and onion into a pot with a sprinkle of salt, to help draw out the moisture. Boil for 10 minutes. Then, add the butter and boil gently for a further 30 mins, with the lid off, so the sauce thickens and reduces. Discard the onion. Add a tablespoon of pasta water at the end, if you saved it, and stir to combine. Toss over warm pasta and devour.  It's that easy! Serves two hungry people.

This was so incredible delicious, I am going to make a large batch to freeze, for a taste of Summer during those dark Winter months that are approaching!

Served with fresh basil and a homemade wholegrain roll. Oh, and a few glasses of red wine...

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