Yes, I know. It’s almost Thanksgiving. What on earth am I doing, in this fall season of pumpkins and apples, fiddling around making pasta? Yes, that ADHD thing is probably part of it…but hubby and I Turned Old this month. Rather than risk an unmanaged midlife crisis facing down the big 4-0, my engineer husband decided to have a planned midlife crisis…in Italy. And so we did. We ate and ate and ate. Oh my aching & happy belly! While we didn’t exactly miss the kids during the trip, they were always in our minds on how to bring the food experiences home to them.
Homemade egg free pasta was the first project upon our return home, and I’m pleased to report it’s not hard at all. Actually, with my second batch, I had the dough rolled and ready to cook, all in the time it took to get my big pot of water boiling. The only tricky parts are making sure you have a pasta maker and finding semolina flour. I have an Atlas pasta machine, works great. Semolina flour is worth hunting down. It’s strong, full of gluten, so you don’t have to rely on eggs to keep the pasta from falling apart. It’s also a beautiful golden color, and mimics the color of egg yolks. Making pasta with regular flour, and no eggs, just won’t work. You’ll have a blob of mushy dough balls after boiling.
The bolognese sauce recipe is nothing fancy, and probably isn’t all that authentic. But it holds a special place in my heart because my sister-in-law made it for us in our early marriage days 15 years ago. I made the pasta and she made the sauce… and this is how bolognese is supposed to be…in my Midwest mind. It’s from an old Williams-Sonoma pasta cookbook, back before they started putting “pancetta” and “veal demi-glace” in every recipe, and instead wrote recipes for average American folks with regular grocery stores. Buon appetito!
- 2 cups semolina flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ⅓ to ½ cup warm water
- Pulse the flour, salt and olive oil in a food processor.
- Add enough warm water to make a soft dough. I usually start out with ⅓ cup and end out adding 2-3 Tablespoons more until the dough is soft, not dry and crumbly.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes, and up to a few hours until you're ready to roll the pasta. The rest period relaxes the gluten and makes the rolling process much easier.
- When you're ready to roll the dough, start a big pot of salted water boiling.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces, keep pieces covered in the plastic wrap until you're ready to roll them.
- Take one piece of dough, flatten it into a nice rectangle 3 x 5 inches or so & start rolling it through the machine on #1. Use extra semolina flour if stuff is sticking.
- Now, that piece probably doesn't look so nice after just one run through the machine. That's because it needs a little more love and nurturing. Fold that piece up in thirds like a business letter and run it through again. Do this 3-4 times and that dough will be looking and feeling real nice.
- Once you're happy with your dough on the #1 setting, start thinning it out. Run it once through #2, then #3 and so on. Around #4, the rectangle can get long and unwieldy, so cut it into two pieces and keep going. Setting #5 is about as thin as I go. You can push on if you want, #6 is real delicate & nice, but tricky.
- At this point, I flour the heck of of my finished pieces and let them sit on the counter while I roll out the rest of the dough. They might dry out a bit, and that's ok.
- Once all the dough is flattened, switch your handle to the back fettuccine cutter and cut the pasta. Once the pasta is cut into the noodle strips, it's really sticky, so use tons of semolina flour to keep them from sticking together.
- Boil for 3-4 minutes and serve with sauce!
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. parsley
- ¼ pound ground chuck
- ¼ pound hot italian sausage (Like the Bob Evans tube kind)
- ¼ cup white wine
- 8 white or porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
- Salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup water
- Saute onions, carrots & celery in a medium saucepan on medium heat in the olive oil until soft.
- Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add meat & parsley, cook until meat is browned.
- Add mushrooms & wine, crank the heat to high and cook for a minute.
- Add tomatoes, turn the heat to low.
- Add salt, pepper, nutmeg & water.
- Let simmer, covered for an hour.
- Add more salt as needed to taste and finish off with another pinch of fresh parsley.