Sarjano takes us on the path to create colorful fettuccine
My recommendation: please don’t make pasta with your hands if you are in a bad mood. When you make pasta with your own hands you can tell if you are into an enjoyable love affair, or you are using the dough to beat the shit out of your ghosts, or to hit your enemies, or to release your anger. The dough shouldn’t be hit or smashed or punched. No! Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But there are days when I want to cry when I see my students (I hold cooking classes in my town) hitting and beating that poor innocent dough, which is there only to be transformed into delicious fettuccine. Stop!
The path for perfect home-made fettuccine (literally ‘little ribbons’) in the color of your choice begins right here:
for 4 servings
you will need:
for plain pasta
500 gms refined flour
¼ tsp salt (optional)
for red pasta
3 tbsp of concentrated tomato paste
4 eggs (instead of 5)
for green pasta
200 gms spinach
3 eggs (instead of 5)
for egg pasta
1 egg for every 100 gms refined flour
If you like your fettuccine to be spectacularly red, add some concentrated tomato paste mixed with a little water and use one egg less. If green is the color of your mood, you boil some spinach, drain and blend it. In this case you will use only 3 eggs for 500 gms of flour.
If you are in a bad mood, and want to see everything in black, including your fettuccine or pappardelle (larger fettuccine), it is simple. All you need is squid ink, dissolved in a very little white wine and again 3 eggs for the same quantity of flour. Your pasta will be quite black in the end.
Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt. (Most Italians don’t add salt to their pasta, because the water in which they boil it is well salted. You could use about ¼ tsp of salt in your pasta if you wish.)
Whisk the eggs, pour them into the bowl (along with any of the other ingredients you want to use for colored fettuccine) and mix gently until it is well blended. You know that you are done with your dough when it’s as soft as a baby’s bottom, as stated by all Italian cooking bibles, and there are many of them.
Now that you have got this beautiful soft ball of dough, what are you going to do with it?
You can choose among so many forms that it will require an entire book to go through all of them. Let’s consider the most essential. We can make fettuccine, or pappardelle, or lasagne. You can use it for making ravioli too, but that is best made plain with 4-5 tbsp of milk added while making the dough. It will be more delicate and soft, and more appropriate for ravioli and their delicate fillings.
So, let’s start with fettuccine.
But first let me tell you, I am not talking to the perverted owners of those automatic machines that are advertised as having ‘the strength of twenty arms’, and I am not making this up. Apparently you throw the flour and the eggs into a tube, and fettuccine comes out at the push of a button. Fantastic! But not for me. It would be like making love to someone without touching her (or him)! Forget it! And I hope that you don’t own any of those old-style steel rollers either, where you insert the dough instead of rolling it yourself. No, the old mattarello, the classic wooden rolling pin (the larger the better) is still the best.
Dust the table on which you will roll the pasta, and roll it at your leisure and at your pace; and decide for yourself at what thickness to stop the process. Is it necessary that fettuccine should be ½-mm thin? Not at all! Some like them thin, some like them thick. It’s your choice. Some like them large like pappardelle, some like them slim, like capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair).
All you have to do, once the dough is rolled to your liking, is to dust the surface with a little flour and roll it into a long cylinder. Then you cut it into slices of ½-cm or more according to your taste, and then you open everything and there you are! Fettuccine! Strips of pasta of the length and size you desire.
From the book ‘Food is Home’ by Sarjano