Darlings! La Diva is not one to back down on a challenge and after my last dough debacle was dying to do it again! Java Junkie from The Karmic Kitchen felt sorry for me after reading my dismal post last week and sent me a new pasta recipe she swears by from the Il Fornaio Pasta Book. I still had a good amount of peppery arugula and gorgeous red tomatoes left from Saturday's farm share, so I thought that a lovely pasta with the farm fresh booty along with toasted pine nuts and lemon zest would make a quick, healthy and tasty dinner.
Let's begin, shall we?
Il Fornaio basic pasta recipe:
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 t sea salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 t olive oil
In a large shallow bowl or on a flat work surface, shape the dry ingredients into a mound. Make a well in the center.
Place the liquid ingredients in the well and beat with a fork, gradually beating in a wider path and incorporating the flour in very small amounts.
Continue mixing with the fork until the dough begins to resemble a dry, crumbly mixture.
Transfer to a flour dusted, flat work surface and beging kneading by hand: roll the dough sideways across the surface, from hand to hand, applying strong pressure (no kidding, darlings, you must put some muscle into this!) while squeezing the dough. Knead until all of the flour is incorporated, no floury white spots remain and the dough begins to soften and is no longer sticky, about 3-5 minutes.
Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Divide in half before rolling. (I divided into quarters.)
And that's where the instructions end. As many an Italian lady has done this by hand, La Diva sees no reason why she can't continue the tradition. I roll the dough into long strips and then using a clean plastic ruler as guide, I cut the dough into very thin strips using a small paring knife. I lay them out loosely over a bowl and when I get a decent amount, I gently roll them up and weigh into 2 ounce portions and "nest" them on a plate. After about an hour of rolling and cutting, I ended up with six pasta nests.
Whew! That was a lotta work for a little ol' nonna!!! No wonder people were in such great shape back in the day! Well, darlings, we are only half finished with the meal! Now, let's get the rest of the ingredients ready (mise en place!)
This is enough pasta for three filling main meals. First, get water boiling on the stove for the pasta . In a small dry saute pan, gently toast a good handful of pine nuts, when brown, remove and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, take a good 2-3 cups of washed and dried arugula and coarsely chop. Set aside. Seed, dice and salt two egg tomatoes and set aside. Mince six cloves of garlic and heat up olive oil in a large sauce pan. Saute the garlic over medium low heat, taking care not to burn. (I had a small chunk of pancetta that I diced and browned with the garlic. With or without, there is plenty of flavor!)
When the water begins to boil, drop the pasta nests into the water, add a bit of salt and cook until "al dente." I cooked mine for about 4 minutes but this depends greatly on how thick or thin you roll and cut the dough! However, if you have to check every 30 seconds, do, as there is nothing worse than mushy, over-cooked pasta! (Especially since you worked SO HARD on it!)
Result: Damn good, if I do say so myself. However, making home made pasta is really a labor of love and I was happy to have an unexpected guest to enjoy the extra serving. (He felt pretty "spesh" I shared it with him too!) Kneading the dough and incorporating the flour was not easy and did take my patience. Also, rolling out and cutting the dough into thin strips was very time-consuming. I made sure to cut them finely and they still cooked up quite thick, so keep that in mind. However, the texture of the pasta was rustic, chewy and delightful. I'm glad that I made a simple dish to highlight all the flavor and texture of the fresh ingredients.
So,would La Diva make the fresh pasta again? In a heartbeat, darling, I'm already wondering what the next DIVALICIOUS meal will be! And, dare I say, I'm ready to experiment with different shapes and perhaps fillings? Molti grazie, Java Junkie, for your easy and tasty recipe!