You are here


Fresh Pasta at Ferrari Speed - Mark Bittman
Lasagna - Jan Garvin
Pasta with Alfredo-Pesto Sauce - Alice Gomez
Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce - Alice Gomez
Kreplok - Lois
Kugel (Noodle Pudding) - Lois
Macaroni Grill Shrimp Pignoli Pasta - Alice Gomez
Pasta Carbonara
             Mary S.
             Sara Waterson

Fresh Pasta at Ferrari Speed - Mark Bittman
New York Times
Published: January 26, 2005
If you routinely make fresh pasta, you can stop reading now. Everyone else - probably about 99.9 percent of you - read on.
Few things are better to eat than fresh pasta. (We're not addressing health aspects here, simply enjoyment.) Loaded with eggs, bound gently by flour, readily accepting and easily enhanced by just about any sauce you can think of from warmed olive oil with garlic or melted butter with Parmesan to the most complicated stew of shredded meat, it's incomparable.
Unfortunately, unless you live in Italy, it's probably not a part of your daily life. Most of the "fresh" pasta sold in stores lacks the charm of the real thing, and even most devoted home cooks consider making fresh pasta a once in a while, rainy day kind of thing, a special occasion dish rather than a reliable standby.
This changes the moment you expand your definition of fresh pasta from tagliatelle and tortellini to, well, cooked paste (which is what it literally means), a dough of flour and egg and whatever else you choose to add. (Dried pasta typically contains no egg and is only rarely made at home, even in Italy.) Because it isn't preparing the dough that makes pasta time-consuming; what takes time, effort and even precision, is rolling it out in a pasta machine and cutting it precisely. (When you get to stuffing it, you're talking about a serious project.)
But if you eliminate the machine, you've eliminated the most severe challenge. The simplest, most basic, and arguably best pasta dough is flour, salt and egg. (Within limits, the more egg the better.) This dough takes five minutes to make by hand and about 90 seconds to make in a food processor, and can be made successfully, I swear, on the first try.
If you take that basic pasta dough, you can quickly roll it out and cut it into random shapes, a process that'll take you 15 or 20 minutes. Even easier, you can take small pinches of it and drop them directly into boiling water, where it will cook like any other fresh pasta; at that point you can sauce it. Or you can pinch it directly into simmering broth to make a fast, fresh pasta soup that takes wonderfully to Parmesan. Yet another alternative is to divide the dough into three or four small balls and freeze them until they have the texture of semi-hard cheese (this takes about an hour), then grate on large holes directly into simmering water or broth.
Expand the concept of pasta a bit (and this is not cheating), and you arrive at spaetzle, the quickly made and rather thin dough (somewhat akin to savory pancake batter) that is often "grated" into boiling water on a spaetzle maker, a tool that looks like a grater without sharp edges. I find spaetzle makers unnervingly tricky, so I prefer to do what I've often seen done by Alsatians, for whom spaetzle is traditional: drop the batter by the spoonful into boiling water. As with all pasta, the more fragile the batter is, the lighter the result will be, so don't make it too stiff; just stiff enough to hold together.
Stretch things even further, and you arrive at the central European version of gnocchi, a raw potato dumpling. True gnocchi - essentially mashed potatoes lightly bound by flour, with or without egg - are not all that difficult to make, but they take time and practice. (O.K., maybe they are difficult to make. Certainly most restaurants don't even come close to the ideal.) These, which lack the elegance of gnocchi, have the advantage of being extremely quick and totally reliable: you grate raw, peeled potatoes and bind them with flour and egg. I like them best in tomato sauce but, like spaetzle, they're wonderful when browned in a pan (after boiling). The trick with these is to make sure the potatoes are cooked through; after the dumplings float to the surface, let them cook a little bit longer, then taste for doneness.
After boiling all three of these basic doughs can be treated as you would any pasta; what I've done here is provide the most basic ideas for saucing and serving. But I cannot think of an instance in which you could not use whatever sauce you prefer on "real" fresh egg pasta. The major difference is that these can be prepared on a hurried weeknight.

Lasagna - Jan Garvin
The sauce:
This is all purpose. We use it for spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, chicken, meatball sandwiches, whatever. It lends itself well to doubling or quadrupling, so we used to make it up by the gallon and freeze it by pints.
3 lbs of fresh tomatoes (Or two large cans of stewed.)
I large chopped onion
correct the following seasonings to taste:
4 large cloves of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1/2 teaspoon bruised or ground anise seed
1 cup of red wine
You can add mushrooms or green peppers or both to the sauce. We've been known to add finely shredded carrots if the sauce is too tart (it's healthier than sugar).
Sauté the onion in olive oil until transparent, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer until the sauce is about the thickness of thick cream.
Brown your choice of ground meat - hamburger, Italian Sausage or turkey in olive oil, add about 2 pts of the sauce, and simmer about 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
The cheeses:
1. I am cheap, so I usually use conventional cottage cheese, processed in a food processor, with about a half cup of Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of parsley and an egg until smooth. It's better with Ricotta, but not all that much.
2. Sliced or shredded Mozzarella
Assemble a layer of noodles, a layer of meat sauce, a layer of the processed cheese, a layer of the mozzarella, repeat twice, and sprinkle a liberal topping of Parmesan on the top. Cover with foil, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes.

Pasta with Alfredo-Pesto Sauce - Alice Gomez
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
I cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whipping cream
I pound capellini or spaghetti, freshly cooked
Finely chop basil, nuts, and garlic in processor. With machine running, gradually add olive oil and process until smooth. Mix in 1/2 Parmesan. Transfer pesto to small jar. (Can be made up to 4 days ahead. Pour enough oil over sauce to cover. Cover and refrigerate.)
Bring cream to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in pesto. Season sauce and put into a large boil with remaining Parmesan. Add pasta and toss to coat evenly.

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce - Alice Gomez
4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
2 packages (3 ounce pkg) Oriental flavor instant ramen noodles
2 cups Birds Eye frozen Farm Fresh Mixtures Broccoli, Carrots, and Water Chestnuts
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Bring 4 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add noodles and vegetables. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain.
Meanwhile, whisk together hot water, peanut butter, sugar, red pepper flakes and reserved seasoning packets in large bowl until blended.
Add noodles and vegetables; toss to coat. Serve warm.

Kreplok - Lois
Very thin noodle dough wrapped around something, pinched, then usually dropped in broth, but you can boil them, drain, put some butter on them and bake them a little in the oven. My grandmother did.

Kugel (Noodle Pudding) - Lois
Here's the basic kugel recipe:
Cook 1/2 pound of wide flat noodles.
Butter oven pan heavily, size about 8 x 8 or equivalent.
Beat 3 eggs slightly.
Add 3/4 Cup milk, 3/4 Cup sour cream, 1/4 cup softened (microwaved) butter, and (only if you want) up to 1/2 Cup sugar. Mix to combine.
Mix noodles and egg mixture, pour into pan, bake at 325 degrees til done.
Good hot or cold.
Of course, you can doctor this up in a lot of ways. Top with 1 Cup crushed cornflakes mixed with 2 T butter, up to 2 T sugar, 1/2 t cinnamon.
Or you could mix in a cup of grated cheese, omitting the sugar. Or as much fried onions and bacon as you like. Or chopped scallions or chives.
Or you could add an 8 oz cup of pineapple, drained. Or raisins. Or baked apple. Cinnamon. Whatever.
We like it plain, though, or with cheese or onions.
One thing I've found. You can put the uncooked noodles in the pan, and cover with the egg mixture. If you let it sit a while in the fridge before baking, you don't have to cook the noodles. It doesn't taste quite the same, the texture is different, but--so what!

Macaroni Grill Shrimp Pignoli Pasta - Alice Gomez
24 Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups sliced mushrooms, washed and sliced 1/4-in. thick
1-1/2 T. roasted pine nuts
6 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
6 cups cooked vermicelli pasta
4 T. butter
2 T. fresh minced garlic
Lemon Butter Sauce:
1 T. minced shallots
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 C. dry white wine
1 C. heavy cream
1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1 lb. lightly salted butter, cut into tablespoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash spinach and remove stems before drying leaves between paper towels. Set aside. Spread pine nuts over bottom of sheet pane and place pan in over on top rack. Roast until golden brown, approx. 2-4 minutes. Removed from overn and set aside. Wash and slice fresh mushrooms. Set aside. Boil pasta in large pot of water according to package directions. Set aside.
Prepare lemon butter sauce: Melt 1 T, butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute shallots and garlic until translucent. Add white wine and reduce slightly more and 1/2, whisking occasionally. Add cream and reduce by 1/2. Add lemon juice and reduce by 1/2. Add white pepper. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining butter 2 T. at a time, whisking continuously after each addition to completely incorporate butter. Continue to simmer, whisking until sauce just coats spoon.
In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the 4 T butter. Add garlic and saute until garlic is translucent. Stir un mushrooms, shrimp, and pine nuts. Suate several minutes or until shrimp are done and show color. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir in spinach. Place warm pasta on plate with shrimp mixture to the side. Pour lemon sauce over pasta, permitting a bit of sauce on shrimp.

Pasta Carbonara
Mary S.
Was it not one of the List clergy who referred us to beating up a couple of eggs and some cheese in hot pasta? I filed this away as an idea for the post-Pascha days, and tonight we had it. First, though, I sauteed some garlic, onions, slivers of roast red pepper and slivers of Easter ham, and a can of artichoke hearts, in olive oil, with some mixed Italian herbs, and added all that to the pasta mix. With some fresh-ground black pepper as well, and additional cheese after getting it to the table. Mmm.

Sara Waterson
Mary, the Italians would reel in horror I'm afraid to say!
They are very conservative about their pasta: each sauce is done in the traditional way with very little variation [let no new thing arise!] and it's obligatory to use the correct kind of pasta too: tagliatelle, the flat pasta, for cream sauces, tho some eg mushroom & cream sauces might be served with 'paglia e fieno', a fine flat pasta which is green and cream [lit: 'hay are straw']; ordinary spaghetti or rigatoni for meat sauces like bolognese; linguine for shellfish sauces like vongole [clams]; spaghettini, the very thin kind of spaghetti, for carbonara and for oil based sauces such as 'aglio, olio, peperoncini' [garlic, oil and chili pepper sauce - yummy, and good for vegetarians or fast days too].
No Italian would ever mix garlic with eggs like this, tho the Spanish might... There is a great sauce using artichoke hearts, the which you saute slivers in a little white wine and olive oil; but they would stand alone, not be mixed with anything else. Red pepper sauce is made with cream: again, you would not add anything else. Fish sauces by the way are never served with parmesan; just about everything else is.
The traditional way of making carbonara, the egg and bacon sauce, which as I think Larry pointed out is what Bill was getting at, is as follows:
Set the pasta to boil: spaghettini is best, but spaghetti will do.
First finely chop and saute some pancetta in a little butter or olive oil until the fat runs [I use smoked streaky bacon here in UK, proper cured bacon from the grocer, not that water-pumped stuff from a packet]
Beat some egg: typically for sauce for four, I would use two, maybe with one extra yolk; add some grated fresh paremesan cheese to the mix [never that stuff in a tub which smells like mouse droppings; parmesan goes
stale very quickly indeed].
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan in which you've sauted the bacon bits; stir round to gather up the fat and juices, toss it all into a warmed bowl and pour the egg mix over the pasta mix. Toss again, adding a little salt and several twists of black pepper. Serve in warmed bowls with lots of fresh grated paremesan, and provide the black pepper grinder.
That's all. The heat of the pasta 'cooks' the beaten egg so it goes a bit grainy. I sometimes cheat by adding a little chopped parsley, some peas, or some cream; but that is cheating. The original can't really be improved on! Quality of ingredients are of course important. I imagine Italian delis in U will have pancetta?
It's the most amazingly quick and satisfying meal after a hard day's work - it only takes about 10 minutes total to prepare - and it's also great for those unexpected guests; I've always got a lump of parmesan and some bacon in the fridge. Follow it with a crisp mixed green salad. You could almost be back in Italy...