If you’ve ever thought handmade pasta is too hard or takes too long, Jenny Hartin of The Cookbook Junkies is here to show you that for a simple dish like Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe from Handmade Pasta Workshop & Cookbook by Nicole Karr, it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning ahead, you can even make it for a Weekday Supper.
A few years ago, I discovered the joy of making pasta by hand. There is something soulfully rewarding about transforming a few simple ingredients into pure comfort food. Making handmade pasta is not a culinary task most people can do every time the urge for pasta hits us. Time constraints prevent us all from doing the things we would like to do and require that we do the things we need to do. There are good quality dried and even fresh products at the market – we don’t have to put such demands on ourselves for everyday life.
For special occasions or when time permits, I love to create pasta at home. I especially enjoy experimenting with different flavors (black pepper, lemon zest and vegetables to add color) and creating various fillings for stuffed pastas. When I received Nicole Karr’s new title Handmade Pasta, I knew it was a book for me. Karr is a professional chef and native New Yorker who has appeared on the Food Network and has worked in restaurants in Italy, Maine and all around New York City. From teaching cooking classes, to private chef work, to food styling for top brands, she has done it all and currently works as a pastaia (pasta maker – female) in New York City.
In Handmade Pasta, Karr imparts her vast experience in 80 recipes each with an accompanying photograph. Instructions are clear-cut and there are many step-by-step photographs to guide the reader toward perfecting pasta shapes and folds. I love Karr’s way of magically combining flavors in these dishes: Pork and Parsnip Tortelli with Apples and Walnuts, Beet and Rose Scarpinocc with Poppy Seeds and Culurgiones with Brown Butter and Almonds are examples of the restaurant quality dishes you will find yourself whipping up on a weekend and if you are adventurous during the week as well. The goal is to make your own pasta – but these recipes can be utilized with dried pastas as well.
The photographs in this book are beautiful – each dish is stunningly presented and Karr’s instructions are concise yet detailed. Anyone can find themselves kneading some pasta dough with Handmade Pasta in their arsenal – and gnocchi and gnudi too!
I chose to make the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe and I even made it on a Tuesday! I did make the pasta in the morning allowed it to rest for 30 minutes and then I used my pasta machine to roll it out and make the strands. It rested on a bed of cornmeal in the fridge until it was time to prepare the dish which took literally less than five minutes. For such a simple dish, it is comforting and delicious and was the recipient of rave reviews.
Time to dust off your pasta maker and make 2017 the year of handmade pasta.
- 2 cups (254 g) 00 flour
- 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
- 20 egg yolks
- 2 tsp (10 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh egg dough
- 1⁄2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3⁄4 cup (75 g) grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Mix the 00 flour and salt on a dry work surface.
- Form a mound about 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter.
- Using your hands, create a well in the middle of the flour-and-salt mixture.
- Slowly pour the egg yolks and oil into the middle and gently beat.
- Gradually work the flour in using your fingers or a fork.
- Combine the flour, egg yolks and oil until fully incorporated.
- If the dough is sticking to your work surface, add a little bit of flour. If the dough feels dry, spray a little bit of water to bind it together.
- Once the dough is formed into a ball, begin to knead it by pushing down with the heel of your hand and rotating it. Knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- The dough has had sufficient kneading when it has a smooth appearance, and springs back when you press it.
- Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before using. If you are not using the dough right away, refrigerate it.
- Cut the rolled-out sheets into 12-inch (30-cm) sections and, working in batches, stack about 4 sheets on top of one another, generously dusting semolina between the layers.
- Fold the dough over to the middle and then again to the other end, like a letter, to form 3 layers. Using a knife, cut the folded dough into 1⁄16-inch (1.6-mm) thick strips (about the same size as the dough’s thickness).
- With your hands, shake off the semolina and form the pasta into small nests. Place the spaghetti on the semolina-dusted sheet pans.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, add the butter and melt. In the meantime, carefully drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the pan with the butter and toss to combine.
- Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano.
- To serve, divide pasta between bowls.
- Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and more grated Pecorino Romano.
Editor’s note: This recipe is printed courtesy of the publisher. The author of this review received a copy of the cookbook, Handmade Pasta Workshop & Cookbook: Recipes, Tips & Tricks for Making Pasta by Hand, with Perfectly Paired Sauces. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the cookbook are affiliate links.
Many thanks to the publisher Page Street Publishing who is sponsoring one copy of this wonderful cookbook for a giveaway, open to US residents only. Please check out the book on Amazon and leave a comment on the post – What recipe from Handmade Pasta would you try first? – to enter. The rafflecopter has several options for earning more chances to win! The more you do, the better your chances. No purchase necessary. The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.
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