There are very few foods that fascinate me more than an egg, and you would be hard pressed to find another ingredient that can claim the same versatility. Wrapped in simplicity, the egg’s possibilities are endless – nutrient-dense egg yolks, along with protein-packed egg whites are nestled together within a delicate porcelain exterior. They are perfect for baking, scrambling, whipping, boiling, preserving while making omelettes, meringues, soufflées, and cakes. Who would have thought you could create so much with this humble ingredient?
Fresh pasta has to be one of my favorite dishes to make using eggs. It might seem impressive, but the truth is, it’s one of the simplest things to prepare at home. You will need some basic equipment before you make your own pasta, but I promise, once you start rolling, you’ll be hooked. I also love a recipe where you can count all the ingredients on one hand!
I use a standard, pasta rolling machine that you can find in most kitchen supply stores. If you have a food processor or a standing mixer, you can buy an attachment that will do all the hard work for you. I have to say that I find it incredibly gratifying to roll out my own and pass the delicate sheets through old-fashioned, steel pasta rollers. It’s so simple that my three-year old daughter cranked out last night’s pasta herself (with supervision), calling it “Rapunzel hair” while passing it through the spaghetti cutter.
This is my basic fresh pasta dough. It is so versatile, you can use this dough for anything from ravioli to the finest angel hair pasta (capellini). The thickness of the pasta sheets will depend on the shape you’re making. While the pasta is at its best cooked soon after it’s been cut, you can make a large batch (double quantity) and freeze the uncooked freshly cut pasta by shaping it into little nests, as pictured above.
For freezing, lay the nests on a lightly floured baking sheet, uncovered, and freeze until firm. Once frozen, gently place into freezer-safe containers or wrap well in plastic wrap. The pasta will last for months frozen, and you can boil directly from the freezer without thawing when you need it.
Homemade Tagliatelle with Basic Pomodoro Sauce (serves 4-6)
For the Pasta
- 4 egg yolks plus one whole egg, at room temperature
- 250 grams “tipo 00” flour (you can find this flour in most fine supermarkets, alternatively use all-purpose flour)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
Mix the flour and salt together. Put the flour mixture in a large wide bowl. Add the egg yolks, whole egg, olive oil, and water.
Using your fingertips gradually bring the flour into the eggs. Once the mixture has come together, start kneading the mixture by hand for about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and set aside for at least an hour.
Divide your dough into quarters. With a rolling pin, roll one section of the dough thin enough to pass through the widest setting of your machine. Run the dough through several times, adjusting the settings each time (from widest to most narrow). Stop passing the dough through once it has reached your desired thickness. I usually stop at setting number 5 for tagliatelle.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt. Add pasta, give it a good stir, and cook for about four minutes, taste to see if the pasta is done. If not, test it again after one minute. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your pasta. Once it has been cooked to your liking, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Basic Pomodoro Sauce
- 1 kilo chopped canned tomatoes (preferably Italian) or the equivalent weight of the best tomatoes you can find
- 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Directions for sauce:
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, making sure it doesn’t turn brown.
Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer over medium/low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce while it’s simmering and adjust the seasoning accordingly. A bit of salt and/or pepper to taste goes a long way in developing the perfect flavor.
In a large pan over medium heat, toss the pasta and Pomodoro sauce together. Add a bit of the pasta water to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you happen to have fresh basil, roughly tear it and throw it on top of your pasta (if you don’t have basil, it’s equally as good without). Serve hot.