fresh pasta + a quick tomato sauce / by Maci Britt

The first time I ever made fresh pasta, several years ago now, was a disaster. It began with a wooden rolling pin and ended in noodles that were way too thick, clung to each other while cooking, and never un-clung. I had read somewhere that making pasta with a rolling pin was possible, and I’m sure it is, but it did not work for me that time.

Since that day, I’ve gained a real pasta machine (thanks mom & dad!), a beautiful book about pasta (thanks grandparents!), and quite a bit of knowledge and experience in the pasta department.

There is truly nothing like fresh pasta, or the process of making it. It’s not as difficult or time-consuming as it might seem, especially once you’ve done it a few times. The reward for the effort is the silkiest noodles ever, and also the satisfaction that comes from knowing you made them yourself! :)

Obviously this pasta provides a wonderful canvas for any kind of sauce you desire, but for this particular night I wanted a simple tomato sauce. I pulled out the recipe I turn to over and over again, but broke almost all of its rules and adapted it to produce the sauce I had in mind. It’s a light sauce with rich flavor… perfect for winter.

So are you ready to make your own noodles? Go for it. This recipe will give you super results, and one of my favorite parts is that it’s eggless! I’ve already used wayyyy too many egg yolks this year making ice cream (like 25 at least).

fresh pasta + a quick tomato sauce
recipe adapted from the glorious pasta of italy and 101 cookbooks

for the pasta:

200 grams (1 ½ cups) white whole wheat flour

100 grams (¾ cup) all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

⅔ cup (165 ml) tepid water

for the sauce:

¼ cup butter or olive oil 

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup red wine

28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

Briefly pulse the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Drizzle in the olive oil, pulsing until combined. Add the water slowly, with the motor running, until the mixture starts to look crumbly. Take a bit of dough between your fingers and roll it into a small ball. If it feels dry, add a little extra water. If the dough becomes to sticky, add an extra tablespoon of flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for several minutes until the dough feels soft and smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

Get your pasta machine ready, then unwrap the dough. Divide into quarters, rewrap three pieces, and use the heel of your hand to pat the fourth piece into a small rectangle. Run it through the machine on the largest setting (0). Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, and run it through again. Repeat until the piece is smooth, two or three more times.

Roll the piece of dough through the machine 2 times per setting, decreasing until you reach 5 or 6. I like to stop at 5. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour as necessary if it wants to stick to the rollers.

Cut the pasta however you prefer (here I’ve made fettuccine), sprinkle with flour, and gently shape into a nest. Cover, set aside, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Check the little nests often and toss with more flour to make sure they don’t stick to each other before you’re ready to cook them.

Before cooking the pasta, make the sauce. Place the butter, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté briefly until fragrant.

Stir in the tomato paste. Cook for about 1 minute, then pour in the wine. It will boil and reduce, and the mixture will thicken. When this happens, pour the tomato juice in and add each tomato one at a time, crushing each in your hand over the pot.

Give the sauce a few short whirls with an immersion blender to make sure their are no extremely large chunks of tomato. Simmer over low heat until you’re ready to toss with pasta.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil, and gently add all of the pasta. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente, then drain, reserving some of the pasta water in order to loosen the sauce if necessary.

Toss the pasta with the sauce, and top with plenty of parmesan to serve.