Thursday, May 8, 2008

Handmade Pasta with Pancetta, Cherry Tomatoes and Herbs

I have never tried making pasta from home before, and when I saw this Bon Appetit recipe I decided to add it thinking I will try making it one day. An Italian friend's mom had prepared homemade pasta one day, and I can't forget the taste of it, so you can see why I had to add this recipe:) But first I think I need to buy a pastamaker.

For now, I have been buying fresh pasta from my local market and trying the sauce, which is great in itself.

The sauce is easy to make and very tasty, so that's the part of the recipe I have tried. The only note I can add is that you can try adding a little bit of cream at the end of saucemaking. It gives the sauce a creamy texture. I liked it better creamy.

Let me know how it comes out if you try to make the pasta at home:)


Soft 00 flour (available at Italian markets) produces a more tender pasta, but all purpose flour works well, too.

2 cups (or more) 00 flour
1 cup hot water, divided
4 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped pancetta (Italian bacon)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved
16 fresh basil leaves plus fresh sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus additional Romano cheese, shaved

Place 2 cups flour in large bowl. Make well in center. Add 1/2 cup hot water, 4 teaspoons oil, and pinch of salt to well and stir to combine. Gradually mix flour into wet ingredients, adding remaining 1/2 cup water to form soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, adding more flour if sticky, about 5 minutes. Gather dough into ball. Transfer dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 1 hour at room temperature.

Lightly dust large baking sheet with flour. Place dough on work surface and cut off 1/2-inch-thick slice. Roll dough between palms of hands and lightly floured work surface to 1/3-inch-thick rope. Repeat with 5 more dough slices, rolling each into rope. Cut ropes into 1-inch lengths. Using 2 fingers, push fingertips into dough as you pull it toward you to form horizontal imprints. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough in batches.

Do ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with dry kitchen towel, then plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature.

Heat remaining 1/2 cup oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, pancetta, and pepper and sauté until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes with any juices and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix in 16 basil leaves and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and boil until tender but still slightly firm to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well; return to pot. Add half of sauce and 1/2 cup grated cheese and toss over medium heat until warm, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta among bowls. Spoon remaining sauce over. Garnish with basil sprigs. Serve, passing shaved cheese separately.

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