One of my favorite things to do is to make pasta. I like it better than watching TV or drinking tea or – well, not better than opera, but it comes close.
And right now is the perfect time to do it because the herbs are still standing high in their balcony flower boxes, yet the temperatures have cooled down enough to have “a batch of herb pasta with butter and parmesan to ward off the early autumn chill” sound really appealing.
I used to do my pasta entirely by hand, which is still something to fall back to if I need a workout and some headspace, but for the past decade or so, this simple $30 pasta machine has been my trusty and helpful companion. It’s not quite the same feeling of achievement, but it’s still good. Plus the little ones love giving turns and rolling out their own spaghetti (of course, not with green herb bits, but with tomato or beet essence in ‘firefighter/dragon red’).
Technically, these are not tagliatelle all’erbette since the herbs are already inside the pasta, but on the plus side you don’t need to worry about a sauce. Butter and parmesan will do just fine (but a side of, say, Marcella Hazan’s butter tomato sauce also works well. – Yes, I am aware the leading theme here is butter).
Tagliatelle all’erbette (makes enough for 3-4 modest eaters)
- 3 eggs, medium to large, if possible at room temperature
- per egg (depending on the egg size), 70-100g flour. You can use 100% all-purpose flower. I try, if I can get my hands on it, to mix regular flour with semolina (careful, just use the ‘hartweizen’ one, not the ‘weichweizen’!) in a 50% to 50% relation.
- a pinch or two of salt (if so desired)
- 1-2 tbs. of fresh chooped herbs: thyme, basil, parsley
- a little extra flour for dousing.
- Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl (the one of your kitchen machine, if you have one). Stir in the salt, if you opt to use salt.
- Make an indention on the center of the flour (‘volcano crater’) and crack the eggs into it.
- Chop the herbs finely and drop them into the egg crater.
- Now slowly incorporate the eggs and herbs into the flour (I usually start with about 250g of flour and then add more depending on how big the eggs were) – with a fork (purist old school), a blender (practicality) or the kitchen machine (lazy lucky folks).
- Once you have a dense, slightly sticky dough, douse your hands in some flour and knead for 10 minutes (or let the kitchen machine do the job). It should feel elastic, still dense, yet not sticky any longer.
- Roll out the dough.
With a roling pin: don’t count on an arm workout later that day, and give yourself about half an hour. Let the pasta sheet dry a little (a little only or it will crack when rolling it up), then roll up gently, cut into desired width, untangle and dry.
With a pasta machine: split the dough into manageable portions (not bigger than a baseball!) and start with running each through the machine with the largest cylinder mark set (#1). Do that eight to ten times. In between, fold the dough (not more than 2-3 layers at once). If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle a bit (the least amount possible) of flour on top. In the end, you should have a stripe of smooth, elastic dought hat is not sticky. Continue with rolling the dough (once each) through cyclinders #2 through #6, then hang the stripe over the back of a chair for a bit of air while you work on the next little ball of dough. If the dough stripes become too long to handle, just cut them in half.
- Set an ample pot of salted water to bowl, so that you can carry the pasta right away from cutting to cooking, to minimize the chance of the pasta sticking together. Then gther your pasta stripes, one by one, and roll them carefully through the tagliatelle cutting cylinder. Scoop up gently. No mashing together!
- Cook immediately (cooking time about 1 minute).
- Of course, you can dry the pasta and keep it for several weeks, but to dry, you need to lay out/hang up the pasta in separate threads to prevent it sticking together. That takes space and some logistics, turning it around every morning and evening, and it will be a couple of days – also depending on the weather – until your pasta is actually dry. Cooking time then increases to about 5- 6 minutes.
- Serve with butter and paremsan or sauce of choice. Enjoy!