Noodly

IMG_2560My family is split into two camps – the rice people, and the noodle people.

…in other words, everyone in my family adores noodles, except for me.

At Vietnamese restaurants, my sister, mother, and father would huddle over steaming bowls of pho while I ate lemongrass pork on broken rice. At Chinese restaurants, while everyone else had dandan mien or zhajiang mien, I opted for shaoya chashao fan. And while instant ramen was a staple food item in my household, I rarely deigned to touch it before high school.

The only cuisine where we met on common ground was Italian. (Though I am a huge risotto fanold habits die hard.)

As much as I have learned to love chow mien and lo mien and all the other miens, pasta holds a special place in my heart as one of the first western dishes I remember my parents making, and one of the first dishes that my dad “taught” me to make. (Basically, I stood there with a wooden spoon and stirred and felt important while my dad measured out and added all the ingredients.)

I’ve learned a lot in the way of cooking since those early years standing on a stool in front of the stove. And since I’ve known how to make rice for as long as I could remember, I figured it was time to tackle pasta.

So dear noodle camp, here’s my olive branch. Easy, freshly-made pasta that even the rice girl in me can wholeheartedly appreciate.

Basic Pasta Dough (adapted from the Babbo Cookbook by Mario Batali) – makes 1 lb (~4-6 servings)

3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Mound 3 1/2 cups flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. (I covered my countertop in plastic wrap then dumped my flour there – easier clean up.)

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together eggs and oil, then begin incorporating flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing flour up from the base of the mound to retain the well walls (Otherwise the egg just gets everywhere). The dough will come together when half the flour has been incorporated.

Start kneading dough with the heels of your hands. Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board. Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. (I took off the original plastic wrap and laid down new plastic wrap, then lightly floured the plastic wrap.)

The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. (Mine was smooth but not sticky – still turned out fine.)

Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling or shaping as desired.

*I tried two methods: I used a pasta maker and I used a rolling pin and rolled it super-thin, then loosely fold the noodles and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into noodles. The pasta maker is obviously faster and creates more uniform noodles – that being said, the hand-rolled and hand-cut ones had great variety in texture that added interest to the dish.

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