Becoming an Italian Grandmother – The Day I Beat The Pasta Water

I love rolling pasta.  I got my little pasta machine about two years ago and have tried to use it pretty regularly ever since.  Last night’s dinner was as much of an Italian Grandmother meal as I could possible make.  Fresh rolled pasta topped with some pesto I made out of my basil plant in the backyard.  Freshly grated parm and a big hunk of fresh bread finished the meal.

But the best part – I beat the water!  I’ve never been able to roll the pasta before the water reached full boil before.  But this time I won.  Maybe because I had a helper.

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I’ll be the first to admit that my “helper” usually slows things down in the kitchen.  And today was no exception.  But she loved turning the crank on the pasta machine.  We finished all this before the water boiled.

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The recipe for fresh pasta is incredibly simple:

1 c. Flour

1 egg

Scale up or down based on how many you’re feeding.  We had a 2 c flour/2 egg batch pictured above.  It was enough to feed 4 people.  Create a mound of the flour directly on the counter.  Create a well in the center of the mound.  Crack the eggs into the well.  Start whisking gently with a fork, pulling the flour in bit by bit.  Once the eggs are incorporated and a dough starts to form, begin kneading by hand until you have a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to either the counter or your hand.  Adjust by adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky, or by adding a few drops of water if the dough is too stiff.

Once you have  smooth dough that bounces back when you touch it, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.  Do not skip this step!!  The dough must rest so the gluten formed in it has time to relax.  Otherwise it will be a hot mess when you start to roll it.  Then roll according to your pasta machine’s directions.  Boil in salted water for 2-4 minutes, or until the noodles float.  Ta-DAA!  Pasta!

It’s entirely possible to make the dough well ahead of time and either freeze it or refrigerate it until you’re ready.  So you could make it in the morning and roll it for dinner if that worked with your schedule.  I think that’s what I’m going to try and do.  If I can put a slow-cooker meal together before work, I can make the dough.  I simply cannot sacrifice 30 minutes of our evening letting pasta dough rest.  This way when I walk in the door, I only have to start rolling and wait for the water to boil.  Even Italian grandmothers can be efficient, right?

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In other Italian Grandmother news, I made this really yummy fish dish.  It’s salmon drizzled with honey and topped with pistachios and seasoned breadcrumbs.  It was really simple, and really delicious.  Even the toddler liked the fish and “fish-tashios.”  The unfortunate part of this meal was the carrot puree.  The salmon was supposed to be served over a parsnip puree.  I did not have parsnips, but I did have a hearty helping of rainbow carrots from my CSA box.  I figured “carrots sort of look like parsnips, let’s substitute!”  What happened is I basically served fish on top of baby food.  It was carrots, steamed and mashed.  Salt and pepper were the only things separating those carrots from the actual baby food I made my daughter when she was younger.  Italian Grandmother failure on that point, though a win if I were serving infants, I suppose.

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