Bon Appétit (May 2008)
We live in a transient city. In my first few years here, I attended well over a dozen going away parties and it seemed that just as I had met people with whom I really wanted to be friends, they were moving away for grad school or other cities or experiences.
The longer we live here, we continue to meet wonderful people and make new friends. Some have stuck around, but other have needed to go, and the going away parties continue.
We knew and liked Will & Haven, but didn't know them all that well. Having them over for dinner seemed a great time to both say goodbye but also get to know them better. In some ways, there's no better way to get to know someone than cooking with them, especially when it's two novices trying to make homemade pasta.
While Will & Zach were in the kitchen wrapping asparagus, Haven & I attempted pasta in the dining room. This recipe doesn't demand fresh pasta, but we thought it would be fun to do with guests. For the pasta, I used a Gourmet recipe from Smitten Kitchen that I had saved last year.
A brief note about our pasta-making history: We have only attempted fresh pasta once before, well over a year ago, when we purchased a pasta machine. That time, we were making dinner for new friends -- Regi & Kate -- and the pasta, while not inedible, was very fat and too chewy. Since then, the pasta machine has remained in the closet, ashamed and collecting dust.
But hey -- we're adventurous and not afraid to revisit pasta, so the machine came out, got dusted off, and we were ready to get started.
Prior to Will & Haven's arrival, I had already formed the dough, using a food processor rather incorporating the eggs & flour by hand, and had let the dough sufficiently rest. We cut our dough into several chunks, rolled them each out, and then proceeded to roll them even thinner, keeping in mind from our previous experience that the pasta needed to be rolled very thin.
Rolling the dough is not easy. Having four hands made it far easier than doing it by yourself. And it's a lot more enjoyable: Working with our hands on a shared project made for great conversation, veering from pasta to family to careers to cities and back to pasta again.
Once the sheets of pasta had rested for a while, we cut them into different size pieces rather than using the pasta machine attachment to make fettuccine or spaghetti. It was easier and less pressure (and we were getting hungry!). After boiling the pasta briefly, we topped it with this wonderful and slightly spicy mixture of favas, tomatoes and sausage. This, incidentally, was the first time we had cooked with fresh fava beans.
The verdict? An immodest amazing. The pasta itself, while not perfect, was delicious and tender and just the right consistency. Once covered with these ingredients, it made a fantastic dish.
Now we're eager to make fresh pasta again! Have any pasta making tips? We'd love to hear them.
Fresh Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes, and Sausage
Bon Appétit (May 2008)
(This photo: Bon Appétit)
Servings: Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 pound Italian sausages, casings removed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (from about 1 pound), blanched 3 minutes then peeled, or double-peeled frozen, thawed
3/4 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut as desired, or dried egg fettuccine
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional for passing
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 3 ingredients. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add sausages; break up with fork. Sauté until brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; simmer 1 minute, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes and fava beans. Sauté until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot.
Add sauce to pasta. Toss over medium heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed if dry, about 2 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons cheese. Transfer pasta to bowl. Serve, passing additional cheese.
More info: In this dish, Alex uses maltagliati (badly cut) pasta. To make it, cut fresh pasta sheets into trapezoids. Don't worry about making each piece exactly the same size or shape. The pasta should have an irregular look.