I heard that Sophia Loren said: “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.” Whether she actually said it or not makes no difference, I still agree with the statement. I love pasta. Some days I think I’d rather have a second bowl of noodles than dessert.
I have wanted to try making my own pasta for a while, now. I blame Mario Batali, the Iron Chef. Actually, I’m a big fan. He makes it look so easy. A few eggs, some flour, throw it together and ta-da: Pasta. I figured I could do that.
This time I didn’t try so much to come up with an original recipe as learn the technique. There are only a couple ingredients after all – how original could I get? I made two dishes. A pork Lo Mein from semolina noodles and a Lasagna Verdi with spinach noodles.
It took some hunting to locate the semolina flour. I found it at a Natural Grocer near my house. I will have to go back there soon. They had lots of things it would be fun to experiment with. (Quick question – is it wrong to wear a leather jacket to the natural grocery store? Everyone else was in hemp…)
The accepted method for making pasta dough seems to be to make a little mound of flour on your countertop, make a well in the center of the mound and pour your beaten eggs into the well. Like a little volcano, with similarly explosive results. Is there some reason this cannot be done in a bowl? All of my attempts at this have been very messy. Blast you, Mario…
But, other than being a mess, my dough came together and I let it rest wrapped in plastic for a bit. It was a little dry, however, so I had to add some water to it.
I used a pasta maker to roll the dough out and cut it into neat little ribbons. Fun!
The noodles cooked up nicely, but they did expand some during cooking, which I didn’t expect or I would have rolled them out a bit thinner. They had a good texture to them, but they were by no means remarkable. I stir-fried some pork pieces and some veggies and made a quick sauce - just some bottled teriyaki mixed with some Asian toasted sesame dressing. It made for a pretty tasty dinner.
The Lasagna I made a few days later. Once again I made a big mess of eggs on my counter attempting the “well” method of pasta making. This time the mess was green thanks to the addition of cooked spinach that had gone for a spin in the blender. Cooking with spinach is fun. It has a sound-track …
I got to use the pasta maker again to roll out my green dough.
I made a sausage tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce to layer with the noodles. The noodles themselves came out of the boiling water very fragile. I had to piece the pasta layers together in Frankenstein fashion.
As for how it all came out, well . . . to quote my daughter, “the noodles are slimy”. The taste was fine, but the texture was, well . . . not. Perhaps I should have let the pasta dry out longer before I cooked it. (I was in a hurry – Apollo Ohno was racing!) Perhaps I made them too thin. Perhaps I boiled them too long. Perhaps spinach just makes for a slimy noodle. The world may never know.
Why? Because I have learned that I do not particularly like making noodles. There were parts that were quite fun, like using the playdough, um . . . pasta maker and the kneading – I like to knead. Otherwise, the effort, and cost and especially the results did not convince me to make a habit of it. I may in the future try my hand at it again, ravioli sounds fun after all, but for now the Pasta Experiment is over. I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s done, and I’m glad that there are such delicious and economical pastas to be found on shelves and in freezers in every super market in the land. I still love pasta, just not my pasta.
I am going to my husband’s grandmother’s house this weekend. She is one of my favorite people on the planet. She also makes beautiful biscuits. I’m going to ask if she’ll teach me how…