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Pasta. It’s one of those things that I would bet most of us don’t even consider making from scratch. Why would we? There is a plethora of ready-made pasta available at the super market; or even online. With the ease of purchasing groceries in today’s world, just about any food is a click away. The pursuit of time-saving and convenient measures has certainly come a long way.
But at what cost? Sure, there is a lot to be said for any conveniences that save time. But there is something so enjoyable and relaxing about these activities that are typically thought of as time consuming and difficult. Bread-baking tops this list for me along with making pasta.
I grew up making bread and still do it often; but making homemade pasta? I must confess that this is a first for me! I am guilty as charged for being one of those people who thought that it surely must be too time consuming and difficult. Well, I stand corrected. Hopefully, I can convince you to follow in my footsteps and give homemade pasta a try. With the assistance of this delightful cookbook, I assure you that you too will be converted to the ease of making pasta-not to mention the far superior taste to the pre-made kind from the supermarket.
One of the greatest things, as the author Manuela points out, is that you likely already have everything you need to make a delicious pasta in your kitchen.
This cookbook is organized much more than just a recipe book; it is a comprehensive pasta education split into sections: ingredients and equipment, the dough, the skills/techniques, and the recipes for pasta and sauces. Manuela walks the reader through everything in a way that dismantles the intimidation that even the most overwhelmed cook may feel when faced with the prospect of making pasta from scratch.
In addition to the directions you would expect to find for making fresh pasta, Manuela also includes useful information like how to dry, freeze, and cook the pasta that you will be making. She does an excellent job of explaining the “why” behind her method; deepening the level of understanding and increasing each pasta-making novice’s chance of success.
In terms of design, this cookbook is set up beautifully. The recipes, tips, and information are all accompanied by beautiful photographs and lovely illustrations. The end of the cookbook is full of useful information: a glossary or terms, additional resources, measurements, and an excellent index.
As far as cookbooks go, this one is a winner for me. Even speaking as a vegetarian, I would recommend this book. The few recipes that do contain meat are easily adaptable to vegetarian versions. It is definitely a cookbook that I would add to my shelf. As someone who had never before made my own pasta, this was the perfect launching point.
Toasted breadcrumbs or finely grated Pecorino Romano, to serve
Weigh the flour and mound it on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the mound. Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and pour them into the well.
Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating it a little at a time, until everything is combined.
Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. Make the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out, and let it rest for 30 minutes before rolling it out and turning it into pasta.
Dust the baking sheets with all-purpose flour.
Roll the dough and feed the prepared egg pasta sheet through the machine, adjusting the settings, until setting #7.
You can do this with a rolling pin too. Make the dough as thin and uniform as possible.
Cut the sheet of pasta into a 6- to-10-inch-long sheet and dust it with flour. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Roll the sheet of pasta along its shorter edge.
Using a knife, cut the roll crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices.
Delicately open up the sliced pasta with your hands, dust with a little flour, and make it into a loose nest.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
Repeat the above steps until you have no dough left.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Make sure not to burn the garlic or the sauce will taste bitter. Add the parsley and season with sea salt. Stir and remove the pan from the heat.
Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the pasta for about 2 minutes, or until al dente. To test this, remove a piece of pasta from the pot and take a bite. It should be cooked but still slightly firm in the center.
When the pasta is ready, drain it through a colander and shake out the excess water.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Mix well and drizzle with some additional extra-virgin olive oil if required.
Serve immediately, topped with toasted breadcrumbs or finely grated Pecorino Romano.
TIP: If you want to cook your tagliatelle immediately, cover them with a clean tea towel while waiting for the water to boil to prevent a crust from forming on the surface.
TIP: You can also make a raw version of the above sauce. Simply crush the garlic and put it in a big serving bowl together with the red pepper flakes and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix and let the oil infuse for 20 minutes before tossing it with your pasta.