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Fresh pasta is one of my greatest pleasures in life.  So many of us are carb junkies, and pasta is my drug of choice.  As much as I love eating it, I always love making it.  This time around, I kept it simple.  On a recent weeknight, the craving hit hard.  I could have made something fancy, but I’ve been trying to challenge myself to cook with what I have on hand.  Living in the city, it’s so easy to run out for this or go pick up that.  But not this time–I created this dish with only what I had on hand.  I also didn’t want to be a slave to cooking for the night (it WAS a school night.)  Start to finish, this took about 2 hours.  The result was pure comfort.  I didn’t have to grocery shop for anything in this recipe, and with the whole wheat flour mixed in, I didn’t even feel guilty about eating it.  After all, a little butter and cheese never hurt anyone, right?

For all of you pasta lovers out there, I encourage you to try making pasta on a weeknight too.  I’ve made pasta the authentic way before… building a flour mountain on the counter top, digging a well, dropping the eggs and oil in the middle and slowly swirling the whole combo together until the dough comes together.  After a rest, I would then use a hand-crank pasta machine, or even, gasp, slice strands with a knife.  But that’s not me anymore.  Now I rely on my trusty food processor and stand mixer with pasta cutting attachment to do the work.  I assure you, both methods give the same result!  I even gave away my hand-crank pasta machine a few years ago.  Here are my must-have kitchen staples for making fresh pasta:

You could definitely add to this recipe as you wish.  Ramps are now starting to pop up in farmers markets on the east coast–they would be awesome in this.  Fresh corn or sliced parsnips would be lovely too.  Give it a shot!

Cacio e Pepe with Fresh Whole Wheat Fettuccine

Pasta serves 6-8.  Sauce serves 2 (double as necessary.)

Ingredients

Pasta

1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

4 eggs

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

Water

Sauce

2 tbsp. salted butter

1/4 cup grated pecorino romano

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

1.  Add the flour and salt to a food processor.  Pulse until mixed.  Add eggs and olive oil to the food processor and pulse until combined.  Drizzle in water, 1 tsp. at a time, just until a ball forms.  Remove ball from the food processor, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 1 hour.

2.  Once rested, cut the dough into eighths, working 1/8 at a time.  When working with 1/8 of the dough, leave the rest covered so that it doesn’t dry out.  Set pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece into rectangle; run through machine. Fold in half crosswise (end to end) and run through again. Continue, adjusting machine to narrower settings after every 2 passes and dusting with flour as needed to keep from sticking, until pasta sheet passes twice through the 2nd thinnest setting. Place sheet on lightly floured work surface; cover with plastic. Repeat with remaining pasta pieces.

3.  Once all of your sheets are made, run each through the fettuccine cutter.  If your sheets are more than a foot long, cut their length to your liking.  If you don’t have a fettuccine cutter, you can always cut with a knife.  Allow your cut fettuccine to dry on a drying rack until ready to be cooked.  Remember to keep each strand separate to avoid sticking.  If you don’t plan on cooking the pasta right away, once it’s dry, you can place in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for 1 month.

Note: This pasta recipe feeds 6-8 people.  Since I was only cooking and saucing for 2, I boiled a third of the pasta and refrigerated the rest.  The saucing instructions that follow are to feed 2 people.

4.  Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for approximately 3 minutes.  Once the pasta floats to the top, it’s usually ready.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

5.  While waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add a generous amount of black pepper (to your liking, of course.)  Cook the pepper for 1 minute.  Lower the heat to low until you add the pasta.

6.  Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add it directly to the saute pan with the butter and pepper and raise the heat back to medium.  Toss the pan to distribute the butter.  Add the two grated cheeses and toss again to start to melt the cheese. Stirring constantly, add the reserved cooking water, a splash at a time, until the cheese is really melty and a sauce emerges.  Taste for salt.  If needed, add some.  Serve hot.

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