On Christmas Eve, my brothers and I crowd around our granite kitchen counter at home in New Jersey and make pasta. (They weren’t going to do it this year, but thank goodness I was there to make sure it happened.) My mom learned how to make pasta from my Italian Great Grandmother Alma Pinciotti and my mom taught us three. Family, food, tradition, holiday. All the right ingredients to do something great here.
Pasta from the store just isn’t the same as homemade. When you make it yourself, you can taste both the rough and delicate work you put into making it. It’s so fresh that it melts in your mouth. It’s tastes special and it’s one of my favorite things to eat. Even better with my brother’s tomato sauce that’s been simmering all day long. So, let’s make some pasta.
Now wasn’t that fun? Now aren’t you hungry? Thanks to my brothers for indulging in my documenting of this process. Those are my older brother’s hands you see in these pictures. Kneading is a workout. I am lucky to have strong co-chefs. If you couldn’t figure it out from the photos, here’s a basic recipe.
- 4 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for hands and surfaces
- 5 eggs
- pinch of salt
Make a well in a mound of your flour on a countertop or cutting board. Crack eggs into well. Sprinkle with salt. With a fork, begin whisking the eggs and slowly incorporating the flour into the wet mixture. Form into two balls. (add a little water if you need to to help it form). Keep your hands and surfaces dusted with flour at all times. Knead balls for 5-10 mintes. Cut balls into 6 parts. Roll to the size of a pancake and bring to the pasta machine. Roll out the dough at a #2 setting. Then twice more through the machine at #4 or #5 settings. When dough is the right size for you, roll up the long pieces into logs. Slice with a knife. Unroll each piece. Boil water. Cook for 3 minutes. Toss with your favorite sauce or just butter, olive oil, and parm.
When I first saw this artwork, I immediately had one thought and one thought only. Pasta. It’s probably because it’s my favorite food. And because I eat it several times a week. But seriously I can’t get it out of my mind when I see this piece.
My pasta routine usually includes sautéing farmer’s market veggies in garlic and olive oil, adding a little cream, tossing in some capellini, and topping with a heap of shaved parmesan. It’s simple, quick, and always delicious. But this piece got me thinking of other kinds of pasta I’m craving to make this summer. Corn in pasta? Yes please!
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It’s Sunday, so that means Farmer’s Market day for me in DC. Probably my favorite thing about where I live is my proximity to the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market. I can roll out of bed and right into all the greatness of the market…fresh produce, flowers, croissants, happy people and happy vendors. The thing about the market is that through the winter it gets a little dull. I’m sure I could be more creative there. But really, there’s only so much squash you can buy.
I’m not in DC right now, so I didn’t go over to the market this morning. But I would like to share a fantastic winter recipe featuring my favorite winter market pick: butternut squash.
I found this butternut squash lasagna recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks: Giada’s Family Dinner. All of the recipes in the book represent everything I love about food: comfort, family, tradition. Anyway, I love this creamy lasagna recipe and I definitely recommend it while it’s still cold outside. The best part about making a lasagna (especially when you live alone) is that you get to enjoy it all week long. It holds up great in the fridge and freezer and makes an excellent work lunch.
You can find the recipe here. I add ricotta cheese, because really I don’t feel like lasagna is complete without it.
While we’re on the topic of lasagna….I made a wonderful meatball lasagna a few weeks ago for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately I got deathly ill with the flu that night so I didn’t get the chance to photograph it. You can find that recipe here. I highly suggest this lasagna too….my only regret is that I didn’t get to spend the whole week eating the leftovers! Just perfect winter comfort food.
a few food memories from Christmas dinner…
Antipasti made from meats, cheeses and veggies from Claudios in Philly.
Red and golden beet, orange, blood orange and fennel salad.
Fresh pasta with the best sauce ever.
Meatballs in the best sauce ever.
Christmas cookie tray...the pignolies were our favorite this year. YUM.
Here’s to food this good in 2011!
two things I’m really excited about right now are squash and taking some time to cook a good dinner. (Both seen in this recent post.) One of my new year’s resolutions is to cook more dinners (aka lunch leftovers!), which is just so difficult during basketball season, but I’m going to try. And farmer’s market squash is a great inspiration.
So for the second night in a row, I made dinner inspired by squash…Butternut squash and spinach pasta in a cheesy cream sauce topped with ricotta. I love the combination of the creamy squash and healthy spinach (even better with whole wheat pasta – not so much with the cream and butter though) and the notes of garlic and thyme.
- For the squash: Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off top and bottom of squash, peel, cut into cubes. Spread out on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Toss around to make sure every piece is coated. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once to rotate.
- For the spinach: Sauté frozen spinach leaves with butter and garlic. After spinach has cooked through, add in a splash or two or three of heavy cream. Mix in some parmesan cheese. When squash is done roasting, add it to the spinach mix.
- Toss spinach, squash and cream sauce with whole wheat pasta. Mix in some ricotta cheese for extra creaminess.
What are your favorite winter meals?