No Excuses, No Apologies: Pasta Ribbons with Tapenade and Peppers
I apologize a lot during the day. Example? “Sorry sweetie, you can’t play video games all day long, you know that…Sorry darling, you still can’t play with the outlets….Sorry, but you have to go to the dentist…sorry, no whining, no excuses. Sorry, you have to wear pants.” One thing I love about blogging is that it’s best done without excuses or apologies. I’ll be honest, though. I don’t have the best, well stocked, kitchen. I don’t have a pasta roller or cutter. I don’t have a food processor. I don’t have a food scale, though I know I should and will soon. My rolling-pin literally just broke. The handle snapped right off of it. It was 10 years old and cheap to begin with, so I was relieved to have an excuse for a new one. I used a wooden ruler to measure the width of my pasta and it still came out kind of craggy because I’m generally not that keen of eye nor hand.
I’m fairly inefficient in general and I always lose things. But, when I cook something, I make absolutely no excuses. If it sucks, I will not give you a list of reasons why I couldn’t make it work, or couldn’t make it perfect. I will not go on and on about how it will turn out better next time, though that is my initial instinct. If it sucks, I make it good. I either make it good right then, or I trash it and do it again, if all else fails. You can always start over.
I made this pasta. It was the first time I had ever made pasta from scratch, by hand. It was surprisingly easy for me and I’m definitely not a culinary genius, I promise you. The sauce is garlic and olive confit, that’s been blended with an immersion blender (I use it all the time, and it’s totally worth the thirty bucks, if you ask me) and then married with butter, tomato sauce and oregano, topped with parmigiano-reggiano and diced raw green peppers. It’s made entirely from scratch by me, who’s generally kind of clumsy and doesn’t have a buffet of kitchen gadgets.
I kneaded the pasta dough, I rolled it out (hopefully your rolling-pin won’t break like mine did. I had to MacGyver it back together to make do. I’ll get a new one next week, don’t worry). Then I cut it using a simple pizza cutter and let it hang to dry over a wooden spoon balanced between the two sides of a large pot. I put some garlic and some olives in some olive oil and let it sit over very low heat. Simple enough. Then I used my handy immersion blender to make a tapenade out of it (including the olive oil because who could waste such a beautiful thing).
Then I boiled the pasta and grabbed some crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper and dried oregano and a little pinch of sugar..added those in.
Easy? Yes. You officially have no excuses. Why? Because if I can do it, anybody can. I promise you that. And, if it doesn’t work out, don’t make any apologies, just make it work or do it again so it’s good. You’ll be happy you did.
(serves two, multiply as necessary)
- 200 grams (approximately two cups) of flour (Type 00, preferably) plus more for dusting
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of water (optional, if needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) plus 3 tbs. (for the pot of water)
- 7 liters (or slightly less than 2 gallons) of water
On a clean surface, sift flour and salt to create a mound of dry ingredients. Create a well in the center of the flour with the back of your hand/fist. Pour eggs into well.
Using your hands take a little of the flour and mix it with the eggs, repeat until all of the flour is mixed with the eggs and a stiff dough ball forms. Add water if necessary and knead on floured surface for fifteen minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 hours in a warm, dark place (between clean blankets or dish cloths).
Lightly flour clean work surface and roll dough out until it reaches desired thinness (or use a pasta machine, if you prefer), slice into ribbons of desired thickness. Let ribbons dry for an hour before boiling. Bring water to boil. Salt the water to taste (approximately 3 tablespoons is what I used).
Drop pasta into salted, boiling water, move pasta around in water, gently (I used the back end of a wooden spoon), to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Let the pasta cook in the boiling water for approximately 2 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. Drain pasta.
Pour cooked pasta into tapenade (or other sauce of choice) and fold the sauce together with the fresh, cooked pasta. Garnish with parmesan and fresh herbs or vegetables of choice.
Tapenade (Olive, garlic and tomato)
(serves two, multiply as necessary)
- 20 Kalamata olives (from jar)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large, peeled garlic cloves
- pinch of salt (plus additional to taste)
- pinch of cracked black pepper
- pinch of dry oregano
- 6 tablespoons crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- pinch of sugar (optional)
In small saucepan, place 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, garlic, olives and a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper over very low heat. Let the oil warm for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (light, small bubbles should form around the garlic cloves throughout cooking). Blend well with immersion blender. Add crushed tomatoes, oregano and butter. Taste and add a small pinch of sugar, if you feel it needs it. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste (if needed). Combine with fresh, hot, cooked (al dente) pasta, or spread over warm crusty bread.
Note: Goes wonderfully with bell peppers, in my opinion.