I routinely leave this country and explore cuisines untried, that expand my pantry, my grocery store’s shelves and my skills. The smells take over my apartment building, sometimes bring spicy, hot tears to my eyes and most always yield some sort of eatable glory that I eat right out of the pot. Those feasts come in fits of cooking passion, usually when I am solo and for my mouth only. Cooking like this allows me to imagine that I am standing in a kitchen in some outer corner of the world, somewhere I will go, sometime.
Along with escape, watching something you have made be gobbled with gusto at the dinner table with barely a breath between bites, is another reason I cook. My Rojitos have expanding palates, but they are not quite up to my crazy around the world cooking adventures. They eat simply, pretty plainly and they eat lots of noodles. Perhaps it is my Italian heritage that while not genetic, has taught me that the humble noodle can be elevated to miraculous when made by hand rather than from a box. And no, I am not making penne or cavatappi or elbow noodles, I am just making sheets that I use whole or that I cut in long uneven strips.
Fresh pasta isn’t hard, doesn’t take hours and isn’t just a special occasion thing, as some cookbook authors suggest. I don’t have a pasta maker, I use what I have in my mostly gadget-free kitchen. You can have a big, hot bowl of buttered noodles with parm in about twenty minutes. The best part about these noodles is watching my boys devourer them. No words, parm shards flying, forks clinking the bowls and butter running down their chins.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of salt
Add little water, in tablespoons, if the dough is too dry and not coming together.
You can multiply this recipe, just keep the proportions the same.
I either mix by hand or throw everything into my Kitchen Aid with the bread hook attachment and hook it until it is smooth. This method would be frowned upon by nonne italiane but it makes the process fast and less messy.
If doing by hand, on your largest cutting board measure out the flour into a mound and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg into the well and add the oil and salt. Using a fork, mix the egg and gradually incorporate a little flour until you can’t use the fork anymore. Knead the dough until it is smooth. I am sure there are You Tube videos galore that will demonstrate this process.
When you have your dough, flour a large cutting board (or your kitchen counter) and starting with half the dough (or smaller if you have multiplied the recipe) roll it out until it is super thin. This takes some practice and muscle. Once the sheet is thin, cut it into 1/4″ (or whatever) strips. Toss the strips with a little more flour to keep them from sticking to each other while you roll out the other piece of dough.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, dunk the noodles for about a minute to cook them through. When they are cooked they float to the top of the water. Drain, toss with butter and parm and serve. You can also put any sauce on these. Lighter sauces are really nice-like pesto or fresh tomato.