Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Formula for Fresh Pasta

Every family has traditions that are unique to them, and one that works, thanks to my family's idiosyncrasies, is making pasta. My sister is key to pasta making, so much so that I rarely attempt it if she isn't nearby. And now that she lives two provinces away, she isn't nearby very often. So when she came to visit this past weekend, I took advantage of her presence and added fresh pasta to the menu.

Why does pasta take two people to make it, you might ask? Well, in this case, I have the interest and the instinct to make a well-balanced pasta dough. I mix it by feel and it rarely turns out too dry or sticky. But the key ingredient to the pasta is my sister's strong hands. She's a massage therapist, you see, and she's got strength and stamina in her hands and shoulders that I simply do not possess.

So I mix the dough to the right consistency, starting with this recipe, and then add water to the bowl until all the flour is incorporated, depending on the weather and humidity (it took about 1/2 cup this time around because we're stuck in a stubborn mid-western cold snap right now, and our relative humidity is practically negative), then I hand the bowl over to my sister. She puts the bowl on the floor, gets down on her hands and knees and gives the dough a working over like none you've ever seen. The resulting ball of pasta dough is smooth and silky—it looks almost too soft to use, but it rolls out perfectly.

The recipe makes a substantial amount of pasta—in our case, just the right amount for a family dinner that served all 13 of us (from ages 1–61, all noodle fiends). I divided the pasta into three bowls: plain-buttered (for the kids and my dad); with pesto (also popular with D); and tossed with a container of oven-roasted tomatoes and sprinkled with Parmesan (my personal favourite). And it was served alongside my dad's home-cured smoked pork chops and my mom's home-frozen garden veggies. 

Nothing like family working together to make dinner taste great!

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