Monday, May 23, 2011

Handmade Pasta with Pancetta and Cherry Tomatoes

Bunker was busy working at home in his office most of Saturday, therefore, I was trying to keep myself busy while still being at home. I don't know why, but I decided handmade pasta sounded like a great and easy idea. So, it was a great idea, and actually easier than I expected! Granted, this is the meal that we ate at 9:30 at night!

This delicious and warming dish is from Bon Appetit, and I made very few changes, of which I will note below. You could easily make this fairly easy sauce and use it on store bought pasta. I will say, handmade pasta is incredibly delicate, soft, and almost has a melting quality. The handmade pasta really elevates a simple pasta dish and sauce to an elegant and velvety textured dinner worth savoring. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for Pasta:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of hot water
4 teaspoons
A pinch of salt

Ingredients for Sauce:
1 tablespoon of olive oil and some sprays of Pam Spray
1/2 cup chopped white onion (I actually used Sweet Vidalia as that is what I had in my fridge)
1/2 cup chopped pancetta
1/2 cup white wine (I added this to the recipe to deglaze the pan)
1/4 cup red pepper flakes (the original recipe called for cracked black pepper)
4 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved (original reprice called for 3 cups, but I really like tomatoes!)
1 cup of tomato sauce (the small cans you find alongside the canned tomatoes, I used Hunts)
16 fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

Steps for Pasta:
1. Put two cups of flour in a large bowl with a well in the center.

2. Add half a cup of hot water, four teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt into the flour well.

3. Gradually mix the flour into the wet ingredients in the center of the flour well.

4. Add the final half a cup of hot water to the dough until a soft dough forms.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough and add a small amount of flour to the dough to remove the stickiness. This should take about 5 minutes. I don't know if you have caught on or yet by now...but I love kneading dough...there is just something about the texture, the process, the guaranteed results, the dedicated time..very comforting.

6. Form the dough into a ball and place the dough in a bowl. Cover this bowl and let it rest for about an hour.

Don't you just love this tea towel! My mom gave it to me when Bunker and I were living in North Carolina. A little touch of Texas can make any day better :)

7. After the dough has rested, cut the ball into five equal pieces.

8. Roll these five equal pieces out into 1/3 inch thick pieces of rope.

9. Cut these ropes into one inch pieces.

10. For each of these one inch pieces, use two fingers and push your fingertips into the dough and pull it towards you to from a horizontal line, almost like folding the dough over upon itself, but without the two sides connecting. This would be a very fun thing to do with little ones, some of mine actually look like a 3 year old had a lot of fun! In the end, it really doesn't matter the shape of the dough, it all tastes delicious. However, do try to keep the pieces about the same thickness for cooking purposes.

11. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. It is really important to use a large pot with lot of water so that the pasta will not stick together.

12. Add the pasta and boil until tender but still al dente (firm to the bite). This should take about 10 minutes.

So...this strainer is one of the best things I have ever gotten for my kitchen. I received this during a bridal shower and it is actually a Wok Strainer, but I have found it so useful for lifting anything hot out of a boiling pot of water, as I am not the strongest person in the world and I have puppies under-foot, I am always worried about tripping on my way to the strainer in the sink with a huge pot of boiling water, and thus spilling hot water on myself of on the puppies. Here is a place (Sur La of my favorite places to shop and take cooking classes) you can find this useful kitchen tool:
13. Drain the pasta and then add to the prepared sauce in the pan in which you prepared the sauce.

Steps for Sauce:
1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. (The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of olive oil, I do not think this much oil is necessary or tasty. So, I used about a tablespoon of olive oil and a few sprays of Pam, and it worked out just perfectly.)
2. Add the chopped onion, pancetta, and red pepper flakes to the oil. (Have these prepared and ready to go for a more enjoyable cooking experience).

3. Saute for about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add a half a cup of white wine (I used the wine we were going to drink with dinner) to the pan to deglaze the deliciousness that sticks to the pan.

6. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauce to the pan and cook until softened and breaking, about 10 minutes.

7. Add a ladle or two of the pasta water to the sauce to add some liquid and develop the flavor.
8. Lower the heat to low.

9. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce.

11. Add the 16 basil leaves and the copped oregano.

11. Feel free to add some shaved Pecorino Romano cheese to the top of the pasta, I forgot...therefore I now need to find a recipe which calls for this cheese, as I have a whole wedge ready to go...oops!
12.Enjoy this luscious creation with someone you love, whoever that may be, I hope you include yourself in those whom you love, as that is indeed the most important person in your life whom you should love with all your heart.

Puppy love!

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