Getting Fresh With Pasta

10 Jun

After a long day of plugging away at my thesis, I decided it was time for a break.  My brain was mush from flipping back and forth between French and English, counting correct and incorrect responses, and graphing it all.  As a runner now, my head immediately went to carbs for an energy boost.

I opened the cabinet in search of some dry pasta, but we were fresh out.  Instead I found this:

Chris’ mother had given me an amazing, wonderful variety of pasta tools for Christmas the past year.  Chris had tried to make his own egg pasta using the food processor a while back, but it didn’t go so well.  He over mixed it, it formed too much gluten, and it was a big sticky mess.  Apprehensive, I decided to try my hand at it using the egg pasta flour.  Maybe it’s cheating, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.

It worked!  I mixed the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl with a hand mixer, and then gently kneaded the dough, adding a bit of water as needed, until I had this magnificent ball.  Thrilled I called Chris over to help me set up the pasta roller.  He put everything together, while I rolled out the dough.

Next step, flattening and cutting the dough.  I did my best to shape the dough into more of a rectangle than oval shape, but I wouldn’t say that I succeeded.  Chris rolled the machine while I fed the dough through and caught it at the other end.

Yes, that’s my foot in the corner, and yes I am hiding from the camera.  You really don’t want to see me after a day of thesis stress.  Through the machine one more time, and voilà!

I set the pasta aside for a bit, while we prepared a protein and vegetable for our meal.  Before starting the pasta, I decided that I would lightly bread and pan fry boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I put them in a mixture of vinegar and spices to marinate in the fridge earlier in the evening, so they were ready to go by the time I finished cutting the pasta.  I also sliced the breasts in half to thin them out.  They’re so thick that when Chris tries to cook them during the week they always come out raw in the center.  I used my favorite three bowl method: Egg, Flour, Bread Crumbs.

You can see our California EVOO in the background there.  I recently listened to a story on NPR about olive oil.  The regulations on imported oils aren’t very strict, so you don’t really know what you’re getting.  California, however, has very precise tests that oil must go through to verify that it is as advertised.  We save it for dressings, dips, and drizzles, so that we can really appreciate the flavor.  These breasts were pan-fried in just a bit of canola oil.  I made sure that the oil was hot before cooking the chicken, and I used our skillet so that it would brown nicely on the outside.  Unfortunately, I was not skilled enough (and the chicken was not flat enough) to get an even all-over brown.

In the meantime, Chris made his new favorite oil and vinegar salad dressing (based on yet another story we listened to on NPR), tossed it with some red leaf lettuce, and we tossed the past in the now boiling pot of water.

I tossed the cooked pasta with a bit of EVOO, salt, and some of my favorite spices, plated it, and placed the chicken on top.  The final product looked fresh and smelled amazing.

Chris absolutely loved the pasta.  He exclaimed, “Oh my gosh love, this is so good,” more times than I can count throughout the meal.  I really enjoyed the fresh pasta too, but I’d love to get it even a little thinner next time.  Judy and Fred Guidotti, thank you so much for the wonderful gifts!  Chris and I loved the pasta and can’t wait to make more!

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