Pasta Master

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When we started this journey enjoying a month of Eataly, I knew I wanted to master pasta. Not just learn how to make it, but master it. I think it is a lot like baking, it’s about texture and not overworking the dough. Here is my attempt #1. I tried a new recipe for the pasta from Lidia’s cookbook, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy. We made lunch one afternoon using our leftover veggies. 

My obsession with the pasta making came from trying Mario Batali’s pasta tasting menu at Babbo. I am not gonna lie, after eating that pasta, I realized most of what I had my entire life just sucked. The pasta at Babbo was like these pretty little packages crafted with care and precision, the texture perfect. Before this month is over, I will confront the ravioli. Of course I started combing through the Babbo cookbook looking for some top-secret pasta confession, but it all looked pretty simple. In the little pastas with filling, I noticed the filling ingredients were pretty intense, and that probably leads to a better burst of flavor. 

If you are ever in NYC, make a reservation at Babbo and give the pasta tasting menu a try. Don’t eat before you go, get super hungry! I follow Babbo on Twitter and it is really tempting to snatch up a last minute reservation. They tweet them every day which is really tempting.

I did so-so. I rolled the pasta out too thin, setting 6 on the pasta machine, when I should have used setting 5. Overall, the pasta texture was the best I made, and I think the fact that Lidia’s recipe had olive oil and a touch of water helped. The gentleman who manages the pasta at Eataly, Mark, told me I need to have a little ‘bounce’ to the dough. He was SO right. I pressed into the dough and it bounced back. This tip also helped me not to over work it. 

This time, I made the pasta dough in a FOOD PROCESSOR. Yupp. For those of you who hear me talk about baking, you know I am a food processor hater. I cannot, for the life of me, make a pie dough in the food processor and have it turn out right. I think there are some things better left to doing it by hand. But I went out on a limb here and tried it. The problem I had with the pie dough was the solution for pasta dough. You have to let it gather on the blade. If I made it too moist, I just kneaded a bit of flour and it was perfect. 

So far my learnings are: making the pasta in the food processor works well, the dough needs to have a little bounce, and don’t over work the dough or it will be too tough. Hope all our NYC friends are hungry, I have a lot of pasta to make. 

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