Pulling Pasta.. and a Plea for Mass Farmers

Greetings, esteemed readers. Massachusetts residents will understand when we say that this post almost didn’t get written, on account of the massively frightening storm-of-the-century that just passed through the state. Gadgets needed to get unplugged, peeps stayed away from the windows… Jen was scared.

But not nearly as scared as the people in the Western part of Massachusetts must have been. Tornados passed through that area yesterday. People were killed, homes destroyed and crops devastated. We don’t know the extent of the damages, but what we can say is that if there were ever a “right” time to start supporting your area farmers, now would be it. Local food prices will rise, but please, keep paying them – to be able to look the person who grew your food in the face and to keep this good food and these jobs in the community. We will.

Sad news aside, we will still use this opportunity to pass along the simplest, most straightforward recipe for pasta that we’ve ever heard. Get your pasta rollers ready – here we go! [Disclaimer: we hand made this pasta in a kitchen that was approximately three billion degrees, so there are no pictures. Fresh pasta, though, is something we make fairly often when space allows, so look for a future post with step-by-step pics.]

So remember that cheese and prosciutto that we picked up at Salumeria Italiana? And that trip to Charles Square Farmer’s Market over near Harvard? We also hit Russo’s for local produce to supplement our farm share veggies from Stone Soup Farm. To recreate the pasta dish we made – primavera is what we’re calling it – you’ll need:

1 lb flour (+ more to prevent stickage on the pasta roller)
5 large eggs

… that’s it. Yep. That’s all you need to make fresh pasta. Salt? No, not in the mix itself, but you’ll boil the noodles in heavily salted water later.

You’ll also need:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced into 1/4 inch rings
1 cup of peas
1/4 cup of prosciutto, diced
2/3 cup of diced mushrooms (we used chanterelles)

3/4 cup soft cheese, preferably something less tangy than chevre – whipped with:
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chiffonaded

First, the pasta. Pour all of the flour onto your counter and make a hole in the middle of it. Crack one egg into the hole and, using your fingers, break the yolk and work the egg into the surrounding flour. Repeat the process with all five eggs, one at a time, using your fingers to incrementally push flour into the middle of the hole. Soon you’ll have a ball of dough. Kneed it until it comes together and is somewhat elastic. If it’s too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little water. Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.

Now, affix your pasta roller to a counter or table. Dust it with flour and set it on the second highest (read: widest) setting – this is 5 on our machine. Break off a chunk of dough about the size of a hockey puck and half the width and dust it with more flour. Start feeding it through the machine. Rolling pasta is a great two person job – one cranks, one feeds. Run the dough through 6-7 times on setting 5, or until it feels silky to the touch.

Repeat the rolling procedure on each setting, from 5 through 2, feeding the dough through at least three times per setting. Repeat with the remainder of the dough, working in small batches. As you finish each batch, cut the pasta into a manageable length to feed into the other attachment that comes along with your pasta roller – the one that cuts it into spaghetti or linguini. Feed the dough on through, then put it on a baking sheet lined with paper (with a generous dusting of flour) to dry.

Fill a pot with water. Heavily salt it – as in, when you taste it, it tastes like the ocean and bring it up to a boil. Meanwhile, heat up your saute pan. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the leeks, prosciutto and mushrooms. Saute over medium heat til the leeks and mushrooms are tender and just starting to get a little crispy – about seven minutes. Add the peas at the very end, cooking til heated through.

Boil your pasta for 2-3 minutes, then drain. Combine with the sauteed meat/veg, then dollop the pasta mixture with the cheese and chiffonaded mint. Slurp up immediately, with much aplomb.

We’re headed out to Verrill Farm on Friday, to check the freezers at Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds, and also the strawberry situation. We’ll be sourcing for Sunday’s post, where we’ll bust out one of our old Russian recipes for pirozhki, plus three new (to us) antique recipes for eggs, spinach and tongue, and asparagus. Stay tuned! Thanks for reading.

Published in: on 2 June, 2011 at 07:00  Leave a Comment  

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