Food for Thought: Make your own fresh pasta | KNKX

Food for Thought: Make your own fresh pasta

Jan 22, 2020

I didn’t want to do this topic.

When Nancy Leson suggested we talk about making fresh pasta I scoffed “Nahhh. Nobody wants to make fresh pasta, and even if you do want some you can just buy it at the store.”

Her reply, in the form of a link to a YouTube video convinced me to make some fresh pasta myself.

The link was to one of the many YouTube “Pasta Grannies” videos, in which the redoubtable Nonnas demonstrate their favorite fresh pasta recipes. The first I watched starred 100-year-old Nonna Letizia making Tagliarini with dried fava bean puree flavored with wild fennel and onion. Assuming I can locate  dried fava beans (and a nice chianti). I’m definitely making that one.

Nance has been making her own fresh pasta ever since taking a course with Susan Raunig of Pasta Francesca.

Susan Raunig at Villa Francesca
Credit Nancy Leson

Nancy says the recipe Susan taught her called only for 00 Durum flour and “an unconscionable number of egg yolks.”  Unconscionable or not, husband Mac told her it was the best he'd ever had. Of course, there are many different combinations of ingredients depending on what kind of pasta you’re making. Some call for whole eggs, or egg whites only. Some just need flour and water.

One good tip I picked up from the videos was for making spinach pasta. In my one foray years go, I’d blanched the spinach, squeezed it dry and minced it finely before combining with the flour and eggs. Nonna Rosa had a much better way. For the green "Hay” in her Straw and Hay tagliatelle she just buzzed the spinach and eggs together in a mini processor and mixed that puree into the flour.

So is it really worth the trouble to make your own fresh pasta at home? For me, once in a while? You bet. But even if you never get around to doing it, the Pasta Grannies videos are still great viewing, both for their charm and demonstration of the sheer skill only decades of practice can supply.

 “Everything I have I owe to spaghetti.” – Sophia Loren.