Last night, I broke my after-exam, special occasion only rule for homemade pasta. It was a Wednesday night. My friends and I had nothing to celebrate, and I am sure we had real things to do (like reading for histology or endocrinology lecture today), but we decided that it was a good night for a fancy dinner. I made the homemade pasta and arrabbiata sauce, and my friends brought the wine. I tried to make the dinner a little healthier by making the pasta whole-wheat and by leaving out some of the salt and sugar that the original recipe called for. I also roasted some broccoli to ensure a little green stuff made and appearance – like I said, I love my veggies!
Dinner came together surprisingly easy. The sauce took about 10 minutes of active prep time (it has quite a kick, so be warned!), and then just simmered for a while on the stove while I made the pasta. With a food processor (I swear this appliance is magical), pasta dough comes together in literally a minute. Just put all of the ingredients in and pulse, and then knead the dough about 10 times. Then you put it under a bowl and let it stand to rise for 15 minutes. The most time consuming process is the rolling and cutting part, but even that is becoming second nature the more I do it! Plus, fresh pasta cooks in about 2 minutes instead of the 8-10 that dried pasta takes. And the taste is incomparable! Maybe fresh pasta will no longer be a special occasion meal…
Dinner was rounded out by drinks and good conversation on the porch to enjoy the nice weather we are finally experiencing in Boston. About a month belated, Spring is finally gracing us with her presence, and I for one could not be happier! We ended out the night with a competitive game of Speed Scrabble, of which I am the contested champion. (What do you think. Is QUIPS a word? Multiple of quip, meaning witty pun? Jury is still out here, we need your help.)
Question: Do you make your own pasta sauce, or do you usually turn to a jar? Growing up, spaghetti and meatballs was my mom’s go-to dinner-in-ten-minutes meal. She had frozen meatballs from Costco and whatever pasta sauce was on sale that week always ready on hand for a night when my sister and I had dance at different times or other activities that would keep the mom taxi going and the dinner time short. When my friends at school found out that we ate sauce from a jar (gasp), they nearly had heart attacks. In NJ, everyone is Italian American, and every good Italian Momma makes her own sauce. Family recipes are well guarded and everyone will forever claim that their mom’s sauce is the best, even if there is no perceivable taste difference. Now, it is a rare occasion that I make pasta, and an even rarer one when I reach for the red sauce. When I do, however, this might become my stand-by recipe. So easy, and so much more flavorful than the jar!
Homemade Whole-Wheat Pasta with Arriabbiata Sauce
For Pasta (Adapted from Williams & Sonoma The Pasta Book)
2 cups whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup extra
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
For sauce (Inspired by a friend’s recommendation)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp lemon pepper spice mix
28 oz can plus 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup sliced mushrooms
For the pasta, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until dough is just mixed. If too soft, add flour and mix until well-incorporated. Remove and knead on a floured surface ten times. Place under a bowl or a towel and let stand for about 15 minutes.
While dough is resting, chop onion. Sautee over medium heat with olive oil and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth, chopped basil and spices. Add tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add sliced mushrooms; reduce heat and cover pan to let simmer. Season to taste with basil, salt and pepper before serving.
Roll out pasta dough and cut into thick fettucine. Boil for about 2-3 minutes, until it just floats. Strain; use small amount of olive oil to keep noodles separate.
Serve pasta and sauce separately with freshly grated cheese. Enjoy!