For us, pasta is the quintessential comfort food. Look up “comfort food” on Wikipedia, and you’ll find a hearty debate on the validity, origin, cultural acceptance/rejection of the term. Memories and food go hand in hand, so for us, comfort food just means food that brings back memories, while making us feel good and nurtured when we eat it. The best comfort food is simple, while still being great quality. Quality comes from the combination of right ingredients with right procedure.
For a fun night, we recommend the following: a good soundtrack, a good work surface (smooth, at least 3 feet long, no grouted counters), an apron, a glass of vino, and the recipe below. Memories and goodness will be close behind.
ONE: The key to fresh pasta is using the right flour. 00 Flour (doppio or double zero flour) can be purchased at specialty food shops. (L.A. residents, Surfas or Gourmet Imports carries 00 flour). Whole Foods carries semolina flour but does not carry 00. Do not bother going through the trouble of making fresh pasta if you’re going to use all purpose flour.
TWO: The recipe below is for filled pasta—agnolotti or ravioli. For un-filled pasta, use half semolina flour and half 00 flour, and use whole eggs instead of egg yolks.
THREE: In the spirit of simplicity, we make our dough in a standing mixer. It works great, makes less of a mess, but, of course, isn’t as fun for the kid. So if you do want to get the gooey/sticky hand thing going, go for it! Pour your flour on a work surface, make a well in the middle, put the wet ingredients into the well, mix and knead until baby bum texture is achieved.
FOUR: Pasta recipes are not exact science due to the varying sizes of egg yolks. Some yolks are large, resulting in dough that is more wet, while some yolks are smaller resulting in drier dough. Keep a few tablespoons of water on hand to balance the moisture.
FIVE: You can use any filling for filled pasta—vegetable purees, mixtures of cheeses, meats. Just remember for the actual pasta you’re using a pinch of salt for all of the pasta, so filling needs to be very seasoned so that you maintain flavor when your filling is covered with the pasta.
• 1 lb. 00 Flour
• Pinch of Salt (kosher or sea salt)
• 15 Egg Yolks
• 1/4 Cup of White Wine (the secret!)
• 1/8 Cup of Olive Oil
• 3 Egg Yolks
• 1 Tbsp Water
STEP 1: Put flour and salt into standing mixer bowl. Add yolks and liquids. Mix at medium speed for 4 minutes using the dough hook attachment.
STEP 2: Form dough into ball shape.
STEP 3: Cover dough ball with plastic wrap or damp towel. Dough always needs to be moist, and needs to be prevented from drying and cracking.
STEP 4: The dough needs to rest. We recommend at least 2 to 3 hours, covered in a refrigerator. You can let the dough rest in the fridge up to 3 days.
STEP 5: Slice 1/8 of the ball into your portion.
Whatever dough is un-used can be frozen. Thaw at room temperature before using.
STEP 6: Flatten dough portion with a rolling pin so that it can be fed through pasta machine.
STEP 7: Set pasta crank on “2” and feed dough through pasta machine. You will have a long rectangle.
STEP 8: Take one end of the rectangle, and fold into the middle of the dough. Take the other end and fold into the middle of the rectangle. Take the “3-layered” rectangle and pass through pasta machine again with the thickness setting at “2”.
STEP 9: Set thickness dial to “3”, and pass pasta through. Set thickness dial to “4” and repeat.
STEP 10: Place long pasta rectangle on work floured work surface. Trim round edges to form straight ends. You’re ready to fill or prepare as spaghetti or fettucini!
Tomorrow we will highlight the techniques for filling and our simple sauce.