Cook's Corner

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
Fettuccini, Linguini, Spaghetti, Ratitoni, Manicotti, Rigatoni, Lasagna, shells, elbows - you name it and chances are I'll admit a love for it. Pasta is definitely among my most favorite foods.
Many people, myself included, feel that pasta is a comfort food. I know that I feel better after having downed a plate of fettuccini with Alfredo sauce poured over the top. And if I'm feeling a little queasy, just boil up some pasta and put a little butter, salt and pepper on it and I'm already on the road to recovery.
I've never made my own pasta. I have, on a few occasions, purchased fresh pasta that wasn't dried and half broken in some cellophane wrapper on the aisle with all the noodles and sauces at the grocery store. But after rummaging through some recipes this week, I discovered that pasta made at home requires very few ingredients, very little time, and best of all, no yeast! I don't own a pasta machine so I know that I will have to use a little extra elbow grease to roll out the dough to a good thickness. But with so few ingredients, if I waste a batch, it won't be a huge loss.
If you think you might like to give it a try, the recipes in this column this week may just strike your fancy.
Basic Pasta
1 egg, beaten
One-half tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. water
In a medium sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the slightly beaten egg, and mix. Mixture should form a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. With a pasta machine or by hand roll dough out to desired thinness. Use machine or knife to cut into strips of desired width.
If you've seen colored pasta twists at the grocery store you've probably wondered what gives them their color. The green pastas usually have a little spinach mixed into the dough while the orange pasta is usually filled with carrots. I'm sure you might want to experiment with some things of your own. I've considered adding a little garlic or onion. I'm also thinking that a little sun-dried tomato, basil, oregano and other seasonings might make plain pasta a little more interesting.
This also might be something you could get the kids involved with and that may encourage the introduction of at least a few vegetables into their diet.
Spinach Noodles
1 and one-fourth cups torn spinach leaves
2 tbsp. water
1 egg
One-half tsp. salt
1 and one-fourth cups all-purpose flour
Combine spinach and water in a saucepan. Cover, and cook till spinach is very tender. Cool slightly. Place spinach and liquid in blender container. Add egg and salt. Cover, and blend till smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 1 minute. Roll very thin on a floured surface. Let rest 20 minutes. Roll up loosely. Slice one-quarter inch wide. Unroll. Cut into desired lengths. Spread out on a rack to dry for 2 hours.
I'm still not quite sure what the difference between regular and Semolina flour is, but it can't be that much difference. If you can't find the Semolina flour, try this with the regular kind.
Eggless Noodles
2 cups semolina flour
One-half teaspoon salt
One-half cup warm water
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Add warm water and stir to make a stiff dough. Increase water if dough seems too dry. Pat the dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes. Cover. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out dough using rolling pin or pasta machine. Work with a one-fourth of the dough at one time. Keep the rest covered, to prevent from drying out. Roll by hand to one-sixteenth of an inch thick. By machine, stop at the third to last setting. Cut pasta into desired shapes. Cook fresh noodles in boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain.
I hope that you'll give at least one of these a try. I'm thinking that experimentation is how many new dishes and recipes happen. If you try adding an ingredient to the basic recipe that turns out really good, let me know about it. Since I love pasta of just about any kind, I'd love to give your ideas a try as well.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!!!

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