What is the pre-requisite to making pasta? Producing a foodie. Check! Josh's preferred entertainment channels have to do with food. Food Network, Binging with Babish, Bon Appétit and on and on. This holiday season he came home after teaching himself how to make pasta from scratch. And I got a chance to be a sous chef to my pasta maker.
The history of pasta is not without controversy. Was it brought to Italy by Marco Polo from his travels to the far east? Or is the first reference in an image on a 4th century BC pre-Roman tomb? Regardless of the roots, pasta took a hold of 13th century Italy in its various forms - ravioli, macaroni, gnocchi, vermicelli. By the 17th century it was a staple of the rich and the poor alike. The reason for its growth was the arrival of machinery to make pasta during the industrial revolution.
At home, making pasta requires acceptance of a very messy kitchen. At first, I tried to keep pace with flour flying around everywhere and then I gave up! Good cooking is messy. There's just no way around it.
We started with a volcano made of flour and salt and dropped eggs and oil into it. Then we carefully forked little bits of the flour into the liquid until a dough was formed. We had to be careful to keep the dam intact so flour and eggs wouldn't run all over the kitchen. After the dough sat for a while, we alternately rolled and laminated it several times until the pasta was stretched into a thin and even sheet on the counter.
We tri-folded the sheet and sliced the pasta into thin strips. We unrolled the strips and floured them generously with frequent instructions: don't squish, not too wide, not too thin, and add more flour.
After all of the pasta was made, we cooked it in salted water. Then we added the pasta and some of the pasta water to a mix of olive oil, garlic and mushrooms. We tossed spinach, garnished it with basil, sprinkled grated parmigiano reggiano, and added a dash of lemon juice.
The end result was delish! The pasta had a simple and fresh flavor and the texture was completely different from store-bought pasta. The lack of preservatives went a long way in enhancing flavor, for sure. Plus the pasta boiled in just a few minutes. Thank you Josh for adding to our culinary repertoire! Adieu for now but come home soon...your sous chef will be waiting.