Last night I spent an amazing evening in San Gimignano, Italy, helping to cook a wonderful Tuscan menu that included making our own Ravioli and Tagliatelle pasta and a traditional Tiramisu for dessert. Okay, so I wasn’t really in Italy, but it definitely felt that way as I participated in a wonderful Tuscan cooking class, conducted by the team of Katia and Fulvio, who run a cooking school in San Gimignano, named Il Vicario. Additionally we made bruschetta, crostini, orange chicken, and Insalata di Farro (this was yummy). I will share some of their recipes in this and the next few posts – hope you enjoy.
Ingredients for Pasta:
1-1/2 cups of white flour
4 Tbl EVOO
1 tsp of salt
METHOD FOR PASTA:
Mix the flour with salt, make a hole and add the egg and oil, working the ingredients and adding more flour if necessary. Knead the dough till it’s soft and can form a ball, and then let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Take a piece of the pasta and work with a rolling pin until you have a very thin sheet of pasta. We actually used a ravioli machine to make the thin pasta – this required the handiwork of two people as one feeds the pasta into the machine and the other helps to move it along as it goes through the machine. We fed it 7 times, moving the numbers from 1 to 7 until we ended up with the perfect product. After you have your pasta sheet you place it on a floured surface and dust the top with flour – this is needed so you can easily fold over the ends and the pasta won’t stick to itself. You fold until the two meet in the center and then horizontally cut the pasta into several slices (about 7 or 8). You cut all the way through and then move the blade of your knife under the pasta so the center lies on top of the blade – your pasta will now “fall down” on either side of the blade and you continue to help it along until you have full strings of pasta. Lay all the strings of pasta on a platter and put to the side. Boil water for the pasta while you start the sauce.
Ingredients for Sauce:
½ red onion
4 large fresh tomatoes, or large can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
3 slices of pancetta or thick-sliced bacon (cut into cubes)
Salt / Pepper / Chili flakes
METHOD FOR SAUCE:
Cut the onion into thin slices and put in frying pan – cover the bottom of the pan with EVOO and saute. I have always heated my EVOO in advance of adding the onion, but learned last night that I should never heat the oil and then add the vegetables as the oil will absorb all the good flavors of the onion. So using a cold pan, add your onion slices, then add EVOO and sauté. When the onion is golden brown add your pancetta (already cut into cubes), finish cooking the pancetta, and then add your tomatoes.
Cook on medium heat till the water of the tomatoes has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.
Add the salt, pepper, and chili flakes to your taste and add the black olives at very end.
While you are making the sauce you should be cooking the pasta – since it is fresh, it will only take about 2 or 3 minutes to cook. After pasta is cooked, drain and put it into your frying pan that has the sauce – adding a bit of pasta water as needed to help the sauce coat your pasta.
Serves: Makes 10-12 servings
(Note the Tuscans eat pasta every night, so their portion is not a “plate of pasta”, but the size of a side portion.)