My mom has an appliance for every occasion. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stopped mid-snack-preparation to be handed an orange peeler, or an apple slicer, or a ramekin. For over a decade, she’s had a pasta maker sitting in our basement. When my ex-pat aunt visited last week, we dusted it off, cranked out the oil, and put it to (its possibly first) use.
My aunt, my dad’s sister, lives outside of Munich and took an Italian cooking class where she learned this pasta and sauce recipe that comes from the Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano. If you don’t have a pasta maker, you can roll out and hand-cut your dough to make thicker cut tagliatelle. But if you do, or know someone who does, this is a good opportunity for a rustic Sunday dinner.
Like most traditional Italian recipes, the measurements are loose and based off of “feeling.” The ingredients are few, but somehow the result is delicious. It’s a labor of love and the steps seem complicated, but are actually pretty easy. If you want to skip the pasta prep, at least check out the simple but tasty sauce. If you’re in the Boston area, you can substitute fresh pasta from Dave’s. This meal is best made in a family kitchen, with a glass of red wine.
1 less egg than the number of mouths to feed (preferably warmed ahead of time)
1. Beat your eggs in a large bowl with a dash of salt.
2. Whisk in a couple handfuls of flour.
3. Switch to a wooden spoon and add in flour until the dough starts to thicken and becomes impossible to mix.
4. Remove the dough and knead it on a floured surface. (You’ll know it’s ready for kneading when it can somewhat keep its shape.)
5. Knead dough, pushing with the heels of your hands. Push, quarter turn, push, quarter turn. Add more flour as needed.
6. When the dough is soft and no longer sticking to the surface, cover it with a dish towel or bowl to rest for fifteen minutes.
Now is a good time to start your sauce.
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 lb sausage, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
Hot sauce or hot pepper
1. Place garlic, onion, oil, and sausage in a pan and heat on high.
2. Once sausage has started to brown, add the diced tomatoes and lower the heat.
3. Add hot sauce or hot peppers to taste and a dash of salt. Simmer until your pasta is done.
Tip: If your tomatoes taste too acidic, add a whole, peeled carrot for sweetness and remove it after cooking.
Once your sauce is going, switch back to your pasta. It will have been resting for 15 minutes.
1. Pull off a lemon-sized piece of dough. (Yes, that’s the actual measurement my aunt’s Italian cooking teacher gave her.)
2. Roll the dough slowly through the pasta maker on the first setting. Be sure to catch, but not pull, the dough as it comes out the machine.
3. Flour the dough, fold it in half, and roll it through on the first setting again.
4. Do this 9-11 times, folding in between, and flouring if sticky. (9 times is the number my aunt’s teacher gave her. 11 is the number of siblings in my dad’s family. Feel free to fall somewhere in the middle if you don’t have 10 brothers and sisters.)
5. After 9-11 repetitions, don’t fold your dough but put it though on setting 2 once.
6. Again, don’t fold. Put your dough through on setting 3.
7. Repeat, moving up the dial and cutting the dough in half when it becomes too long to manage. (On our machine, that was before the fifth setting.)
8. Continue up the dial until the dough becomes very thin. When it seems on the brink of breaking, set it aside on a dish towel to dry for ten or so minutes.
9. Start again with another lemon-sized piece of dough. 9-11 times on setting 1, and then once through full-length on each setting. Check on your sauce.
10. Add your noodle attachment and run your dried pasta ribbons through the machine, catching them as they come through.
11. Toss your noodles onto a dish towel to dry and separate. Then, they’re ready for cooking.
12. Boil a pot of water, and then throw in a fistful or two of salt.
13. Gather up your noodles, toss into the water, and stir immediately with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.
14. Once your water comes back up to a boil, turn off heat and drain. Mix your pasta with your sauce and serve, with grated parmesan or a handful of greens (rucola, spinach, etc.) Enjoy the satisfaction of DIY dinner and follow with an espresso.