Weekend Kitchen: Weeknights in Tuscany

Makinpasta

By Julia Westhoff

We cannot get enough fresh pasta lately. We’ve been making it several nights a week and every time we love it more. We were gifted a pasta maker many years ago, and while we would often break it out for special occasions only lately has it become a part of our weeknight routine. That’s because fresh pasta really showcases whatever sauce its paired with. And right now with our summer garden at its peak there is just nothing better than a plate of delicate spaghetti and tomatoes paired with a crisp white wine. It feels utterly right with this hot weather and makes me feel like I’m in Prairie Villa, Tuscany instead of Prairie Village, Kansas.

Fresh pasta requires only two things: flour and eggs. You don’t need a machine (although you can get a great one for $25). It really is easy, but we’ve learned a few key tricks to create restaurant-quality pasta:

1) Have everything ready when you cut the dough. Your salted water should be boiling and your sauce should be in a large saucepan. Fresh pasta just takes a minute to cook.

2) Use a slotted spoon to move the cooked pasta from the water to the sauce.

3) Pasta water, salt, olive oil (or butter) and parmesan cheese are your friends – they will marry the sauce and the noodles and make them taste great. Toss everything together and add those things as you go. Fresh pasta soaks up a lot of water and flavor – it should take you a few minutes of tossing (over low heat) before everything comes together.

Basic Fresh Pasta Dough
Ingredients:
3 ½ cups flour
5 eggs

Dump flour onto a large, clean work surface. Make a large crater in the middle and add your eggs. Whisk the eggs a bit, and then slowly begin incorporating the flour. Knead the dough for several minutes until it is a firm ball. Place in a covered bowl and let rest for 20 minutes. Divide into 4 sections and roll as desired. We sprinkle our pasta maker with flour to make sure the noodles aren’t too sticky. Cook immediately and toss with your favorite sauce.