Learning about food, photography, and writing. Sharing what I find.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farfalle e Fettuccine

On my third try, I have finally created a successful batch of handmade pasta. Honestly, I am shocked that this series of misfortunes ended positively, but the Fettuccine you see below tasted just like Italy (especially when slathered with my father-in-law's quickest and most excellent basil & garlic pesto).

After learning the technique from the most perfect little Italian lady in Orvieto, the first ever batch I tried on my own went in the trash before it could even call itself dough.

The second batch, attempted only moments after discarding all evidence of the first disaster, at least took shape, but ended up tasting pretty floury and got kinda lumpy. Plus, we got lazy and didn't roll it out nearly enough. Thick, floury, and lumpy don't make happy ravioli.

I decided to try again, though I definitely didn't learn from some of the mistakes that ruined this batch's predecessors. The process has the semblance of ease, but it can go very wrong if you're not being conscientious, aware, and patient. There's that word again. My biggest weakness in the kitchen (and in life).

Allow me to share Signora Menichetti's technique and my advice for avoiding disasters when making Handmade Pasta:

1 1/2 lbs. all purpose flour
7 eggs
2 tsps. Kosher salt

Yep, that's it. Now comes the tricky part.

Pile the Flour on your clean, smooth workplace—piled high and tightly.

Dig a well in the center of the flour pile.

Get down to the counter in the center to form a ring of flour and try to keep the walls packed tightly.

Crack all seven Eggs into the center of your "flour crater" and sprinkle the salt on the pool of eggs.

I cannot stress this enough: be slow and patient with this next step.

Begin to scramble the eggs with a fork while keeping the walls reinforced with your hands (I am sure this precarious situation could be avoided if you just use a bowl, but that's not what my pasta teacher did :). Slowly incorporate bits of the flour walls into the eggs. When a very wet dough begins to form, fold what remains of the flour walls over and knead to incorporate fully. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface, getting it as smooth as possible.

**My eggs acted more like molten lava spewing from a volcano than the concrete holding my pasta together. Don't freak out of this happens. Just move ten times quicker and frantically scoop the eggs back into the pile of flour and hope for the best. I did.

Pull off an apple-sized chunk of the dough. Prepare a floured surface and a floured rolling pin.

Now, spend the rest of your evening rolling it out (or use your pasta press . . . something I don't own, but I want this one).

Then, do it four to five more times with the remaining dough torn into apple-sized pieces. The elasticity of this dough as amazing and frustrating. It takes a serious commitment to get it to this thickness.

**Once I had successfully rolled all my dough sections to an edible thickness, I was lazy and piled them on one another. Don't do that. They will stick together and you will have to roll them out again. Find a clear surface for each piece. Also, once you cut them into strips to make Farfalle per the request of your husband, abstain from stacking these smaller sheets and definitely don't let them sit under a hot lamp bulb. You will have to roll them out a third time.

Cut your rolled dough into the desired shape. I did Fettuccine, the lazy-man's pasta cut (1/4 inch thick, long strips), for 1/2 the batch, as pictured on top of the post. I finished the dough as Farfalle, the "you're lucky I love you, Penn" shape that makes a really nice pasta salad for that next Spring cookout on your calendar.

Maybe someday I will have an entire day to cook where I can spend the morning making my grandmother's sauce, meatballs, and sausage to top the pasta I make in the afternoon . . . Let's all pray I find a day in my life to accomplish this goal.


  1. Love this post! The first time I made pasta I didn't roll it out enough (and even had a mechanical pasta roller to help). It cooked for almost 20 minutes and was still gummy. Disaster! Your recipe encourages me to give another crack at it.

  2. hmm...gives me the urge to try making umbrichelli. although didn't matt tell us that it doesn't use egg? is that possible?

  3. Yes, we'll pray that day comes! ...and that we're all with you when it happens! This looks like a lot of work, but it also looks so very worth it! Nice bow ties, Grace!

  4. I can attest to the deliciousness of the farfalle pasta salad! Also, you kneaded (kned? knooded? knought?) dough with those gorgeous rings on? Brave girl!

  5. Ahhhhhhh...heavenly! (and I completely agree with Gret...we had all better be there for the complete Mamen package.)

  6. Laura, I have been picking little bits of dried dough out of the nooks and crannies of my rings all week! Believe me, it's safer if I just keep them on. I'm too much of a klutz to fiddle with them when they're loose.