Pasta Master

Homemade noodles and sauces are easier than you think

Introduction by Meredith S. Jensen | Recipes by Andrea Lewis | Photos by John Halley

Making anything from scratch, let alone pasta, may seem daunting at first, but there are really only three ingredients you need – time, love and tenderness.

Sure, it’s cheesy, but we’re talking pasta, so there’s going to be some cheese involved. Mastering making your own pasta takes time and practice. You’ll also want to add a lot of love, so try not to get too frustrated with yourself and have fun. Finally, fresh pasta is rich, tender and surprisingly easy to make.

No pasta maker? No problem. Try your hand at making our pappardelle – no fancy equipment needed. Serve it with a homemade garlic cream sauce with crispy pancetta. Or give a few more homemade sauces a try! Our take on the classic vodka sauce uses rich mascarpone cheese and goes great with gnocchi. Make a hearty traditional Bolognese from scratch and serve over a lush, eggy tagliatelle. Or go green with a fusilli served with a spinach pesto with peas.

Think outside the box (and the jar) with these classic recipes sure to impress your guests and family alike.

Spinach Pesto

SUGGESTED PASTA: FUSILI, ROTINI, FARFALLE  • Serves: 4-6 • Prep time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of baby spinach leaves (or 2 – 10 ounce bags)
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts for garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil (reserve the rest).
  2. Add garlic and onion, sauté until translucent.
  3. Add spinach and basil to the pan. Toss until wilted. Turn off the heat.
  4. Place all ingredients (except walnuts) in a blender or food processor.
  5. Blend until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the appliance with a spatula as necessary.
  6. Place in a bowl and toss with your favorite pasta.
  7. Top with shaved parmesan and chopped walnuts

 

Bolognese Sauce

SUGGESTED PASTA: TAGLIATELLE, CHIATARRA, CAVATELLI • Serves: 4-6 • Prep time: 45 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 4 Italian sausages, casing removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 4 crimini or baby portobello mushrooms, Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and shallots, cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Add sausage, and veal, brown
  4. Add red wine and tomatoes cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients, and a generous pinch of salt.
  6. Cover with lid and bring to a boil for two minute, stir and reduce heat to low cook for 30 minutes
  7. Serve over pasta topped with shaved Parmesean cheese and crusty bread

Note: this sauce tastes better if prepped a day in advance

Garlic Cream Sauce

SUGGESTED PASTA: PAPPARDELLE (see recipe below), FETTUCCINE, ORRECHIETTI
Serves: 4-6 • Prep time: 30 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound cooked pappardelle, fettuccine or orrechietti
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

 

DIRECTIONS

In a small pot, heat oil over medium.

  1. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender, 4 minutes.
  2. Add peas, cream and lemon zest. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, 8 minutes.
  3. Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour cream sauce over pasta and toss to coat the pasta.
  5. Top with crumbled pancetta and serve immediately.

 

Homemade papparedelle

The great thing about this pasta is you can make it without a pasta machine!
Makes approximately 1 pound of pasta

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup semolina flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt

 

DIRECTIONS

Make the dough. Sift both flours together on a large work surface and make a well in the center. Place the eggs, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then pour into the well; with a fork, break up the eggs, then gradually mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until combined.

Knead by hand until the flour is well incorporated. Cut the dough into 2 equal-size balls; flour the surface. To knead each piece, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over itself and turn it counterclockwise. Continue pushing, folding and turning until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes.

Let the dough rest. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten slightly, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. (You can freeze 1 ball for later, or roll out both and freeze the cut pasta.)

Roll out the dough. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with flour. Starting in the middle, push away from you with a rolling pin, easing up on the pressure as you approach the edge. Continue rolling the dough into a sheet, turning occasionally, until you can see your fingers through the bottom. Let dry about 10 minutes.

Cut the pappardelle with a sharp knife or pastry cutter. Dust the top of the sheet of dough with flour and loosely roll it into a cylinder. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices. Unwrap the noodles; dust with semolina and gently toss to separate. Place on a sheet pan and cover with a tea towel until ready to cook (or freeze in freezer bags for up to 2 months).