Monday, May 24, 2010

Fresh Semolina Pasta

Making your own fresh pasta is rather simple, there are only a few rules of engagement if you want to have any success at using your noodle. One, make a volcano. Don't ask me why, it's just what you are supposed to do, and it's what every great Italian chef since Marco Polo brought the noodle home from China has done. Two, work with wet hands until you get the right moisture content in your dough. It's always better to work the water in, little by little, until you have it right. Three, use a pasta machine. Pasta dough is notoriously hard stuff to work with, but a small, hand operated roller will really go a long way when it comes to mixing and rolling out the noodle to the proper thickness. Here is a simple recipe for one man sized serving:

Fresh Semolina Pasta

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour1 egg
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tap water

Form the flour into a small volcano, and add the beaten egg, water, and oil to the center. Using a fork, stir the egg mixture into the flour, until you get a crumbly, dry dough.

Next, wet your hands one time, and begin to knead the dough, working until you get a soft ball that does not crumble apart. If your dough is still too dry, wet your hands one more time and continue kneading. Do this until the dough is the right consistency. It should be very rubbery, and should not be too wet. Next, form the dough into a long snake, roll it flat, and pass it through the pasta machine, set to the thickest setting. Fold it in half, and pass it through the machine again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Do it until the dough is smooth and uniform. Fold the edges towards the center, and pass it through the machine again. Then, flatten the noodle out by making one pass through the machine, decreasing the thickness (my machine has a little knob numbered 1 to 7) until you get to the desired one. My machine starts out at 7, and I take the noodle down to a 3 for spaghetti. Finish the noodle off with the cutting attachment, if you have one (if not, you have to go old school and use a sharp knife). Fresh pasta cooks very fast, so only give it about 5 minutes, then drain and toss into your favorite sauce! OK OK. I know. I am sure that you want to know why there is a jar of Safeway Select brand Artichoke and Pesto Pasta sauce in the picture above. Yes, it is true. Sauce out of a jar. Now, before you choke in horror, let me remind you that I am on a really strict budget, and I carefully considered making my own sauce, if it was economically the best choice. I was shocked to find that the already prepared generic brand sauces by Safeway actually cost less per ounce than crushed tomatoes! If it were only a matter of price, I would spend the 2 cents more per ounce for my own tomato base, and I would have created my own sauce, because I am also concerned with using only natural ingredients. Well, there is absolutely nothing unnatural in the Safeway sauce! No high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, or artificial anything. Now, I will say that I do NOT see pine nuts listed as an ingredient, and I don't know how you can say that you have a pesto sauce without them, so that part may be a bit of a little white lie on the part of the marketing department, but regardless, the sauce is good stuff, and I felt fine with it, and especially the $1.99 per jar price. Once the noodles were tossed into the sauce, topped with crumbled feta and paired with a nice blue cheese salad, there was no doubt. And take a look at the marginal cost!

Food Economics:

Eggs - $1.99 dz = ($0.498 for 1)
Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour - 24oz bag $3.11 = ($0.259 2oz or 1/2 cup)
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour - 5# $3.99 = ($0.099 for 2oz or 1/2 cup)
Olive Oil = ($0.050 for 1/2 tbsp)
Safeway Select Artichoke and Pesto Pasta Sauce - 1 jar $1.99 ($0.995 for 1/2 jar)
Feta Cheese Crumbles - 3.5oz $4.39 = ($0.313 for 1/4 oz)

Grand Total = $2.21

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jason - Thanks for the recommendation for the Fish Market. Wanted to let you know we went and adored it!