Pasta Making 101

Pasta making 101

What does making homemade pasta got to do with gardening? Nothing! But a gardener’s got to do something in the dead of winter and I wanted to try out that new pasta machine that I got for a birthday gift in June. I thought it would be a great compliment to my homemade spaghetti sauce that I canned last Fall from all those tomatoes I grew. Lava, Elodie and myself are the ‘chefs’ that made it happen. We did many things wrong and it still turned out great!

Trying to keep the well from breaking..

First mix flour (preferably Tipo 00 Italian flour which is finer that regular flour) with some eggs. Your suppose to put the flour on a board and pile it up and make a well  in the center of the flour (like mash potatoes and gravy) and crack the eggs in the well being careful not to break the well. Of course the well broke and it was a mess mixing it together. We had to add more water than the recipe called for because it wasn’t mixing very well but finally it looked somewhat like dough after kneading for awhile. Then we put plastic wrap on it and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. After that we cut it in half. It looked great! What a surprise! We then put a quarter of the doughball through the machine which eventually makes for very long pieces. We ran it through the 1st setting 5 times, each time folding it in thirds and then rerunning it through again. After 5 times, we started setting the machine at #2 setting and then the #three and so forth until we tighten it to setting #6.  Each time it would get longer and longer and  thinner and thinner, eventually reaching about 2 feet long. After that we ran it through the machine where it cuts the pasta into linguine or spaghetti shaped long strands. We cut the finished pieces in half to not be so long (I imagined slurping up a two foot long piece of linguine in my mouth). Finally we put it on a clean floured dishtowel to dry for about 30 minutes. Just enough time to heat the sauce and have a glass of wine! Lots of fun and it tasted great! Here is a quick slide show.

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Fantastico Spaghetti sugo (Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce)

Here is the recipe I used when canning all those jars of spaghetti sauce. (Only I don’t add meat when canning). My mom taught me how to make this recipe for spaghetti sauce. She learned it from an Italian friend of ours. Her name was Jenny (funny name for an Italian) and she was a neighbor of ours when I was growing up. She was always so kind to my brother and me. Unfortunately she died of breast cancer in her 40s’ but her spirit lives on in her sauce. I have never shared this recipe until now so I hope those of you who take the time to make this enjoy it.

3 large cans of tomato sauce (I think they are 26 oz)
1 large can diced tomatoes (same as above)
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup red wine
1 med onion sliced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (optional)
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2-4 TLB dried basil
1 TLB oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)

Put tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and paste in a big pot and add 1 cup water. Add all the herbs and olive oil and stir in. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.  In a fry pan, saute onions and mushrooms in a good grade of olive oil.  If you want to add Italian sausage, add these first and then saute the veggies in the same pan after they are done. If I want vegetarian style I will saute some sliced zucchini in big 1 inch chunks with the onions and mushrooms. After tender, add crushed garlic last and saute till soft as it will burn if you add it too soon. Then add to the simmering tomato sauce. Stir often. Add wine after simmering for a couple of hours. Stir often. The key to this sauce is to cook it almost all day on very low-do not cook on too too high of heat or it will burn. If the sauce starts to get too thick too soon, I will add more water. Cook, cook cook! I usually cook up a pot on a Sunday when I can be home while doing other things. Eventually the sauce gets thick (as thick as you’d like) and a rusty red color. Taste and if it seems too acidic add about 1 -2 teaspoons sugar to reduce acidity. You don’t want it sweet, just want to cut the acid and sometimes out of the can it can be a little acidic. Of course I use tomatoes right out of the garden but not everyone has that luxury and it is still wonderful when using canned tomatoes.  Refrigerate or freeze the remainder. It tastes even better the next day.