Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fresh Pasta and 15 Minute Tomato Sauce and the First Harvest!

Most of us are having trouble dealing with all the rain and grey skies these days, but I think I may have a dish that will can serve as just the sunny reminder you need that it is indeed spring and beautiful (delicious) things are coming into season all around us. Late spring means tomatoes are finally starting to be palatable, and around here that means it's time for the fastest, easiest, most flavorful tomato sauce we know.

While my weekday dinner preparations are by design very quick and simple, I tend to seek out more involved meals to savor on long Saturdays. usually while I listen to a podcast, which is usually about food. This is why I chose to make some fresh pasta this weekend. I know fresh pasta can seem intimidating, but it's actually quite easy and the results are satisfying and significantly different than dried pasta. (I don't say better, because each one serves different purposes well)

Before I get to the dish, I have to celebrate. Our babies are growing up! This weekend, we harvested the FIRST anything out of our first garden EVER! It was LETTUCE! It was GREEEEAT! (And very, VERY dirty) Pretty huh?

That kale is going next. I am so happy with how well these grew this year. I think I'll do twice as much next year and try to stagger it a bit better. Non-stop kale for a few weeks is something I think I can handle. We'll see what becomes of this-

Onto the meal!

I looked at a TON of resources for fresh pasta and this recipe is a true amalgamation of about six different recipes. I started with three cups of flour total. I decided to use half semolina (corn meal) and half unbleached unenriched white flour. Make a well in the center of the flour.

Then, add 4 whole eggs and 1 tbsp. olive oil (I got this stuff at my local Middle Eastern grocery for pretty cheap.)

Pour your oil into the well

Then put the eggs into the well and start mixing it up with your fingers. This is where you have to put the camera down because your husband is yelling at you about the eggs all over the counter, but trust me. It'll be fine. Do your best to bring everything together. Knead for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is shiny and smooth. (You may need to add more liquid or flour )

Knead this for a while, until it looks pretty. Like this.

Hey look! I got this new kitchen cart! I got it super cheap on craigslist. It sits by the window for me to cut things on and take pictures on. (here it is with some of my awesome mac and cheese)

First, divide the dough into four equal parts.

Then, roll out the dough. If you're like me, you'll have to do it with a rolling pin because you can't find the handle for your pasta rolling machine. X-(

Dust these generously with flour and roll them up.

Slice 'em.

And hang 'em up to dry. I hung the strips over a spoon braced over a couple Mason jars. These dried for 30 minutes or so while I prepared the ingredients for the sauce.

Now for the sauce.

Start with some garlic, of course. This is from my local Asian market. Isn't it cute? (The quality is fine, though I much prefer the variety of garlic types that show up in my farmer's market in the late summer.)

You'll need 2 pts of cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 small yellow onion diced, and some minced garlic. I used 5-7 cloves. You might want to only include two. We like our garlic very very strong in tomato sauces.

We chose a cheap white wine that was on the drier side for this dish, a Sauvignon blanc.

We decided to include one chicken breast, chopped into 1/4 in. cubes. This isn't necessary and turned out to be more than enough meat for the occasion. I'm so happy and surprised as to how little meat we've been eating lately. It's been better for our bellies and out pocketbooks.

Get a large wide pan (I used my saucier, a skillet would be fine.) heat up

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. butter

throw in the onions until they're translucent. then throw in the garlic. then add in the tomatoes and cook until they're as soft as you want them. For me, this was just less than five minutes. Then, deglaze with

1/4 c. white wine
the juice of half of a lemon

Use these liquids to scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the good bits.

In another pan, fry 1-2 strips of bacon. This came from my farmers market. The owner is so.sweet. to her pigs, and it REALLY shows in this bacon which has the perfect marbling and smoke flavor. I've been buying bacon each week from her ever since....

Enter the fresh pasta, boiled to al dente. (In my case, 8-10 minutes)



Pretty darn quick and easy.

The take-home message of this post is this- get out to your farmer's market, buy what looks good, put it together in a simple but thoughtful way, and enjoy.

Late spring is good!

Early summer is GREAT!!


brannyboilsover said...

This looks like it was a bit of work but worth every ounce of effort!

Linda said...

I always love coming to your blog as there is always some new tasty treats to oogle over. Did you have any fresh pasta left over or did you make enough for just that evening meal?

Alicia said...

Hi Linda! Thank you for your kind comment and thoughtful question! I neglected to mention that I used only half of the dough for dinner, and what you see hanging on the spoon is half of the total, so I had two spoons hanging at once :)

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