Fresh Herb Pasta
What is it about February that makes everything so bleh? Is it because the temperature outside is in single digits every day, rendering it impossible to run (or even venture) outside? Partially. Is it because Mercury is/was in retrograde? Perhaps (everyone has definitely been acting weird enough for me to believe there’s at least some truth to all this astrology stuff. Plus it is nice to have something as large as a planet to blame). Is it because we’re all just plain sick of wearing coats? I’m sure it’s at least somewhat responsible for why everything feels off.
I guess the one good thing about the doldrums of winter is that it just feels right to spend hours in the kitchen making things. There’s no warm sunshine telling me to take a walk downtown. There’s no spring breeze coming through an open bedroom window tempting me to wear sundresses instead of my February usual. So my hours of free time (which, honestly, have been dwindling fast- not sure how I feel about it though) have fully become about staying in pajamas and camping out in the kitchen. Chopping sweet potatoes and cauliflower and kale, stirring bowl after bowl of cookie dough, pulverizing almonds in the food processor. It is nice, but it also feels like I’m biding my time. For what? Not sure. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling like this, so I thought it would be good to share one of the ways I’ve been coping with this endless season: pasta making. I know, I know, not everyone is as insane as I am (i.e. finding joy in rolling dough and the like), but this is actually a really cool activity! Honestly, it’s art. I haven’t experimented with colored pasta yet, but just you wait. We’ll get there, and it will be beautiful. Just FYI, you can very easily roll pasta dough without any contraptions, but it does take a bit longer to do it all by hand. That might be a good thing though! Because as we’ve already established, winter is l o n g. Best thing to do is eat a giant bowl of pasta with a smile on your face. Because really, is it even possible to eat this particular food and feel bummed? I think not.
Pasta (makes 3-4 entree-sized servings; from My Paris Kitchen and Smitten Kitchen with a few alterations)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme, chives, and parsley, but feel free to make it your own!)
2 3/4- 3 cups all-purpose flour
large pinch kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 whole eggs, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
sprinkling of semolina or cornmeal
Whisk together 2 3/4 cups flour, herbs, salt, and pepper. Turn out on to your counter (or preferably a counter lines with parchment paper or a Silpat to control mess). Make a deep well in the center of the mixture and add the eggs. Using a fork or your fingers, mix the eggs together within the well until combined. Begin gradually mixing in some of the flour mixture from the sides of the well.
Continue incorporating the eggs with the flour, lifting up sticky bits with a bench scraper until a shaggy dough is formed. Knead the dough until quite smooth (about 1-2 minutes), adding extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, then form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Let it rest at room temperature for about an hour (ample time to make a sauce if you’re feelin’ it).
Divide the dough into sixths and sprinkle semolina or cornmeal on a large baking sheet. By hand: roll each section of dough until it reaches about the thickness of a credit card. Let it rest for about 10 minutes to firm up, then cut into desired shape! By pasta maker: Flatten it slightly, then pass through the first setting of a pasta maker. Adjust to the next setting and repeat until you reach the thickness of a credit card. Pass dough through desired pasta shape (I went Fettucini). Lay pasta on baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out too much.
If planning to eat right away, cook pasta in salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil for 2-6 minutes. If you’d like to wait a bit, transfer pasta to ziplock bags with a little extra semolina and store at room temperature for a few days and increase cooking time to 6+ minutes, tasting along the way! Toss with your favorite sauce + cheese combo. I’m a major tomato sauce fiend, but actually ate this one naked with just a little pecorino, olive oil, and pepper!