I recently visited Rome and must admit that, despite my dreams of heavenly Italian food at every corner, I had both good and bad food experiences there. Because I was doing all the typical tourist activities (Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Vatican City, etc.), I frequently ended up at the more touristy restaurants selling the more mediocre food. But I did happen to have a guide book with me (an excellent one, by Rick Steves), which was great help in terms of sifting out the hidden gem restaurants, and the rest I found through walking around more neighborhood-y areas and outdoor markets.
So in the end, I did get a taste of some delicious and interesting foods: chocolate tiramisu from a store that sells nothing but different kinds of tiramisu (it was amazing), unknowingly buying and cooking horse meat (wasn't bad, but a bit too funky-smelling for my tastes), chestnuts roasted by street vendors on top of what looked like antique stoves, to-die-for panna cotta with "caramello" on top, the most tomato-tasting tomatoes I've ever had in my life, and on and on. Oh and one can't forget the once-a-day gelato quota, where I had some flavors that to this day I'm still not certain of ("cassata siciliana"?).
When I returned back to the States, I thought... why not try making my own pasta? I thought also of gnocchi, but pasta seemed easier to me and a good first step. I don't have a pasta machine, or even one of those pasta rollers (which now I know are probably very worth it to buy if you plan to make pasta often), but I found a recipe that claimed you could make noodle pasta without any additional equipment.
2 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp olive oil
- Sift flour and salt onto cutting board, and create well in the middle. Break eggs into well, and also add milk and olive oil into well.
- Using your fingers, mix liquid and dry ingredients together carefully until you form a ball of dough. Dust your surface with flour and knead the dough for several minutes, then wrap in plastic and let sit for 15 minutes.
- By now the dough should have a nice, slightly elastic texture. Dust your surface again, more generously, and roll out the dough as flat as you can (I would even suggest working with half or a quarter of the dough at a time), less than 1/8 of an inch, to a rectangular shape.
- Flour some more, then pick up the rectangle and fold it loosely into thirds. Using a large knife, cut thin strips to make your noodles (I would recommend about 1/4 of an inch thick).
- Hang them over something (I used a laundry basket) to dry for at least 3 hours. Then cook as you would your regular dried pasta.
Overall the dough was quite easy to work with, although I definitely broke a sweat rolling the dough so thin (which in the end wasn't quite thin enough, hence I say thinner than 1/8 of an inch). That's the crucial part, I think, in making a decent pasta. Because I didn't roll mine thin enough, the texture was not as enjoyable as a store-bought kind, and plus some noodles had tiny air bubbles trapped inside. Perhaps next time I'll try a ravioli or a simple hand-torn pasta rather than the effort of noodles.
Next up: What I made with it!