Pasta and Herbs: Egg Pasta

April/May 1996

Makes about 2/3 pound, 4 to 6 servings

These recipes are all variations or elaborations of this basic pasta. The recipe is easily expanded: just keep the proportion of one extra-large egg to one cup of flour. A one-egg batch will serve two adults as a main course or three as a first course or side dish. If you are serving ardent pasta lovers or if you want leftovers, add an extra egg and cup of flour to the batch. We are quite fond of leftover pasta for breakfast.

• 2 cups unbleached flour
• 2 extra-large eggs

Mixing By Hand

1. Heap the flour and make a well in it. Break the eggs into the well and beat them together with a fork, then stir the eggs into the flour from the bottom of the well until the dough in the center is smooth and shiny. With your hands, incorporate the flour from the outside into the center, kneading gently until the mass of dough is consistent but still soft.

2. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and resilient. You may need to add more flour if the dough is sticky or very pliable, or you may not incorporate all of the flour. Divide the dough into two portions and cover it with plastic wrap or an overturned bowl. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes before putting it through a pasta machine.

Mixing with a Food Processor

1. Place the flour in the work bowl fitted with the steel blade and pulse. Add the eggs and process 30 seconds. The dough should just turn over itself at the top of the bowl. Test by stopping the machine and pinching a bit of the dough together. It should cohere readily. If it doesn’t, add water, a teaspoonful at a time, and process; add only as much water as necessary. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for a few minutes.

2. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Rolling and Cutting

1. Begin rolling one portion of the dough through the machine at the widest setting of the rollers (usually “1”). Fold it and run it through the widest setting another time or two. ­Always put an open side into the machine when adding folded dough. If the dough feels wet or sticky, dust it lightly with flour before running it through the machine.

2. Advance the rollers a notch and put the dough through the machine without folding. Continue rolling the dough once through each setting without folding. The final setting of pasta machines varies; the ideal thickness for cannelloni, fettuccine, or lasagna is about 1/16 inch (the last setting on some machines, the next to the last on others). The pasta will be difficult to handle if it is rolled too thin.

3. When the pasta is the desired thickness, trim the odd-shaped pieces from the ends, reserving them for another use (in soup, for example). Cut the long sheet of dough into lengths that will be easy to work with; 12 inches is about right for many shapes of noodles. Set the pieces of cut pasta on a smooth, lightly floured surface so that they do not touch. The pasta is ready to cut into desired shapes, either by rolling it through the cutters on the machine or by hand. Fettuccine and linguine are easiest to eat if they are cut finally into 6-inch lengths. Roll and cut the remaining portion of dough.

Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger, two gardeners and food writers who collaborate on recipes from opposite coasts, met in Italy over a bowl of pasta twenty-five years ago. They are the authors of The Garlic Book, The Chile Pepper Book, The Greens Book, and the upcoming Onion Book, all from Interweave Press.

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