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Pasta

Have I talked about pasta yet?  Probably.  But leave it to me to not check first.IMG_0215

Christmas 2011, Mom gave me a pasta maker and it’s still probably my most favorite kitchen tool.  Least practical favorite kitchen tool? Yes. But that’s ok, we all have our faults. 😉

I enjoy making pasta with it.  I didn’t get the kind that has a motor, so I hand crank sheets of pasta.  It came with a cutter that would make fettuccine and (kind of) spaghetti noodles.  Well, I broke the cutter, so I cut the sheets with a pizza cutter instead.  It did take a while to figure out the best consistency for the pasta dough, but it has gotten easier for me to correct mistakes.  I broke the cutter when I tried to take it apart to clean it after forcing a too wet pasta dough through.  Bad idea.  It is impossible to put back together.  Now that I’m better with the consistency, I haven’t had many problems like that.

You don’t have to have a pasta maker to make pasta.  I mean you will be doing all of the work yourself anyways, the pasta maker just presses the pasta.  It’s a lot easier with the pasta maker, but it’s not required.

IMG_0823Patience is key with pasta.  There’s a bit of mixing, then kneading, then rolling, then cutting, then cooking.  All before you can eat one bite.  Ok, that’s not completely true.  I’ve eaten “raw” pasta before.  It chewy and tasty, but not something I want to sit down to a bowl of.

I use the recipe from Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour, except that I typically half it unless I want to have a lasagna or a lot of leftovers.  It’s a good place to start before playing with flavored pasta.  I’ve done spinach pasta and basil pasta.  I would like to try red pepper and maybe a spicy noodle soon.

What I haven’t really mastered is the Tomato Sauce.  I can do Alfredo, sometimes herbs, butter and pepper is good too.  I use the pasta as noodles in soup, but I just haven’t been able to get a sauce that I really liked.  Until now.  And I’m sharing.

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 quart jar of crushed tomatoes or a big can (28 oz?)
  • an olive oil and butter mixture totaling about 2 tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • parsley
  • sage
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • any other green herb you like, marjoram and tarragon are both good
  • sour cream

Ok, my recommendation for cooking pasta sauce is to use the BIGGEST pot you have.  Yes, even though you are only cooking a jar IMG_0824of sauce, it will boil and splatter and your largest pot will help to catch some of the splatters.

Melt the butter and olive oil and add the herbs.  I don’t include measurments beause its really a matter of taste, but I had a total of about 1 1/2, maybe 2 tbsp, heavy on the basil and oregano. Do what you like, but saute them first.  Then add the garlic and saute a few more minutes.  Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes or longer.  If you want to simmer for hours like some recipes call for, I would start with more tomatoes since they will cook down.

IMG_0825If you are making your own pasta, now is the time to roll it out and cut it.  You can cook fresh pasta right in the sauce, which is really nice.  Add the noodles in and cook 5 – 10 minutes until they are done.  If you are using dried pasta, then cook as normal then add to the sauce.  Once everything is together, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then add some sour cream.  A tsp or a few tbsps.  Taste as you go to decide if you want more.  Top with a little feta or Parmesan (perhaps both?).

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