Italians and their Pasta
If you’ve never had pasta made from scratch, you are missing out. Fresh pasta is light, with just the right amount of “toothiness” (where the term al dente comes from), and has a savory flavor all its own—it’s not just a vehicle for sauce. Homemade pasta is imperfect and not uniform, which is part of it’s attraction. Someone actually made it!
While Italians didn’t invent noodles, they are the undisputed pasta masters—Italy has an estimated 350 types of pasta, and each region (sometimes even city) has a traditional shape often paired with a specific sauce. There’s orecchiette (or “little ears”) from Puglia often with broccoli rabe and sausage, thick pici from Tuscany usually served with a wild boar ragu, tagliatelle and farfalle (or butterfly/bowties) from Emilia-Romagna, rigatoni from central Italy, penne from Liguria usually served with a spice arrabbiata sauce, paccheri from Campagnia, malloreddus from Sardinia, lasagna from Naples, busa from Sicily, gnocchi from northern Italy…and so on.
Got flour, eggs, salt, and some time? You could have fresh pasta for dinner tonight! This is a great go-to dough recipe:
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon of water if required.
Watch the technique for mixing and forming nine unique shapes. Make a well in the flour, and mix the eggs, oil, and salt into the middle. Continue combining with your hands. Pasta dough is rather forgiving—add some flour if it’s sticky, add some water if it’s dry. Trust your instinct. Your dough should be firm, yet pliable. Once it’s uniform and smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. Then it’s time to shape! You can let your pasta dry before you cook it or you can cook it right away.
In terms of sauce, simplicity is best with fresh pasta – saute some garlic in olive oil and add some diced tomatoes and basil. Pesto is another good option, or try a carbonara recipe.
P.S. If you want to learn more, one of our favorite projects out there is Pasta Grannies.
P.P.S On our Discovering Puglia tour, we make pasta during a cooking class on Pugliese cuisine.