An Ode to Pasta

Recipes, story and photos by Alycia Chrosniak
 
Pasta is the reason I gained 14 pounds the semester I studied in Florence. That’s right, 14. You’d think I might harbor some ill feelings toward it, but no, here I am seven years later publicly declaring my love for it. You see, pasta and I go way back. Like, all the way to the days that I only ate spaghetti with butter, or mac and cheese as a child, back.
In high school, I took the pasta machine my parents had been gifted for their wedding out of its box in the cabinet and entertained myself by learning how to make fresh dough from scratch. Swirling the eggs and the flour together and then kneading away: press, turn, press, turn, press, turn, until the dough was silky beneath my palms and I had simultaneously worked out any impending SAT anxiety.
In college, I conquered my grandmother’s famous lasagna recipe – constructing her meatballs with their three types of meat, braising them in a thick, flavorful ragu, and learning that patience is a virtue, because in the world of
lasagna, a two-day assembly is truly best. In Italy, I became enamored with the people who made the pasta. Not just chefs, but the families and their traditions, passed down generations between them.
Whether it be the serene yet laborious process of making it from scratch, or the smaller servings in Italy that make one really savor each bite, pasta has always had a way of making me pause. My hope is that you’ll make this dough and the apprehension you’ll feel on the first attempt will disappear on the second, and that soon, the kneading will feel like an extension of yourself.
Alycia Chrosniak is a freelance food and travel writer, and the human behind CTEatsOut.com, your guide to the best eats in the state. 
 
 
FRESH PASTA RECIPE

 

Makes about 1 lb

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 whole large eggs
5 large egg yolks
Water, as needed

Equipment Needed:

Pasta machine
Rolling pin
Bench scraper (optional)
Parchment paper
Baking sheet

To Make the Dough:

Mound the flour on a large, clean work surface and create a well in the center large enough to hold all the eggs. Pour the salt, whole eggs, and egg yolks into the well.

Using your fingers, break the eggs up and begin mixing the eggs in a circular motion, gradually pulling in flour from the sides. Continue mixing, slowly incorporating more flour. Occasionally use a bench scraper (or your hands) to tighten the well and push the flour toward the eggs. The mixture will thicken and eventually feel too tight to mix with your fingers.

When the dough thickens, lift the remaining flour up onto the mixture and push together. It should look shaggy at this point. Bring the dough together with your palms and form it into a loose ball.

Knead the dough by pressing it in a forward motion with the heel of your hand. Rotate the dough 45 degrees and repeat. After every four turns, form the dough into a ball again and repeat. Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes smooth. The process can take 10-15 minutes. If the dough is too dry and won’t hold together, you can add one teaspoon of water at a time to hydrate it.

Once your dough is smooth, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to one hour.

To Form the Pasta:

Cut your dough into four even pieces. Set one aside and wrap up the rest. Using a rolling pin, flatten out your dough to around half an inch thick, trying to keep the thickness uniform.

Next, take out your pasta maker and set it up according to the instructions. If you’re using a machine, turn the flat roller portion to the widest setting (usually 0 or 1). If you’re using a stand mixer attachment, turn it to a medium-low speed.

Pass the dough through the machine on the lowest setting 2-3 times, until it goes through with little to no resistance. Then turn the dial to the next setting, which is narrower, and run the dough through again 2-3 times. Continue doing this through the third to last setting (usually marked as 6). Repeat with the three other quarters of dough. Then, at this point, congrats! You have a long pasta sheet that can be fashioned into many shapes.

To Make Fettuccine:

Lay your long pasta sheets out in front of you horizontally. Cut the tapered ends off each so that you have four long rectangles. Then cut each sheet into 10-12 inch sections and dust lightly with flour.

Next, pick up a sheet and feed it through the fettuccine setting on the pasta machine. Gently catch it as it comes out and curl it into a nest on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Lightly dust it with flour and repeat with all the remaining sheets of dough. Use immediately or cover the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for use later in the week.

Tip:

If you get any holes in the dough, while rolling the dough out, you can laminate it. Lay the pasta sheet out in front of you horizontally. Fold the right side in to the middle. Then fold the left side in to the middle. Fold the right side all the way over to the left, like you’re closing a book. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough together in a vertical motion. Then pass the dough back through the widest setting of the pasta machine, and continue again through the settings.

Fettuccine with Asparagus 
and Prosciutto

Feeds 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh fettuccine
6 oz prosciutto
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente, about 1-2 minutes for fresh pasta. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place a large pan over medium heat and lay down a few pieces of prosciutto until they crisp. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining prosciutto. Set aside.

Using the same pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the peas and asparagus to the pan and sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and stir.

Add the drained pasta, along with the reserved pasta water and cheese, and stir until a glossy sauce forms, about 2-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the prosciutto, mix and serve. Top with more Parmesan and lemon zest as desired.


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