Cooking Italy~Fried Zucchini with Garlic, Basil and Pasta

16 08 2009


This is kind of a two for one post…I made the sauce, which is the zucchini fried in garlic oil tossed with butter, basil and parmesan and fresh fettucine.   That was Part 1.  Part 2 is the fresh pasta.  My first attempt (ahhhh….the drum roll…..)  I didn’t finish everything until rather late, thus the rather not-so-great photos…my apologies in advance, but…it was all quite edible and rather enjoyable! WOOHOO!  Mr. B got up this morning, looked me square in the eyes and said, “You made pasta last night.”  That rules out dream and hallucination.

Our group went back and forth on this dish, like and dislike-wise. I think the upshot is the 1/4″ stick cut didn’t yield the same texture and flavor, and those of us that broke form and went with disks liked the dish better.  Our zucchini had crunch, but a lovely soft texture too.  The sauce was not the star of the show in any way.  It was merely there as a shawl over the pasta while the zucchini performed gymnastics on the taste-buds.

We started with leaching water out of the zucchini by liberally salting the pieces and leaving them to drain in a colander for at least 2 hours.  Plenty of time to make the pasta.

Pasta.  Noodles.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  Yeah.  But, I’ve never done it before and you’re first anything is just a little intimidating…y’know?  So, laughing in my husband’s arms…

“How many times have I said this…”

“Quite a few.”

How many times have I thrown it in the trash and collapsed in tears?”

“Can’t remember any?”

“What’s usually the end result?”

“Something wonderful.  So what are you worried about?”

“Mmmm…nothing…forget I said anything…”

Bolstered by that little reassuring conversation, and 28 years of cooking with and for this man, I set forth to make my first pasta, bound and determined not to have a failure my first attempt.  I measured my cup of unbleached King Arthur (had to buy just for this) flour into a stainless steel bowl (large enough to work in as though on a work surface; theoretically more contained mess; liked the theory!!); cracked in my 2 eggs on one side, blended the egg yolks accordingly and worked until I had a dough, and scraped and kneaded.  Next time, I think I’ll use a bowl scraper a bit earlier on to get all of the odd bits and stuff out of the bowl while I know it will take it.  This is the difference between a pasta dough that rests and one that doesn’t.  If you’re plowing straight through, don’t scrape your bowl. Those bits and pieces will give you problems.  If you plan to rest the dough, they’ll be absorbed into the dough just fine.  I kneaded in as much flour as I could by hand, wrapped the dough in plastic and let it rest about 20 minutes.  By that time, the elasticity had relaxed, but the dough wanted more flour.  This time I machine kneaded the pasta dough.  When it tested that it was finished accepting flour, I wrapped it and rested it for 30 minutes.   CI_pasta-dough

Now, it’s time to figure out the pasta rolling machine!  Easy enough… I rolled the dough through just fine….until I hit #7 – EEEK! It tore the dough to shreds.  It’s ok.  I knew enough to fold it up and let it rest, it could go through again later.  The second ball did the same thing. DARN!!  That’s ok… Step #6 looks pretty much thin enough for me at this point!  And so, here’s a sheet of pasta dough…

CI_pasta-sheetAnd this is what it looked like after I let it air dry enough to cut it up some


And then I piled it up on a towel and took it to the kitchen while I made the sauce….


And that’s when I was struck by the dreaded (echo chamber sound effects) Pasta Syndrome.  Yes, friends, sneaking out there amongst every insufficiently dried strand of fresh pasta near you is a strand just dying to remeld with another equally insufficiently dried strand of pasta.  The two may be dusted with flour, they may be cuts apart, but let them commune in a kitchen towel brief moments while the pasta water returns to a boil and the sauce is created, trust me, you too are in danger of the (echo chamber sound effects) Pasta Syndrome.

It wasn’t too bad…there was one clump that was beyond separation and I cut it out and tossed it.  The rest was fine. It served as a great object lesson though.  Use the drying rack dummy.  All in all,  the pasta experience wasn’t something that would put me off. But then, I’ve made Chinese dough from scratch, flour tortillas from scratch, and now pasta…it was a logical progression.  Actually, a little behind schedule! LOL!  Now I’m anxious to make some of the other pastas…  Only time will tell if this has created a monster!  Although, I don’t see me making homemade pasta after work very often…



8 responses

20 10 2009

I love how you displayed the zucchini with the pasta, that looks so wonderful. Your pasta experience was such fun to read about and see with the photos. Maybe someday I will try. Maybe. In the meantime, I can just drool over this entire post. So making this again soon with the zucchini done like yours.

7 09 2009

Your first pasta! I can’t believe it! Looks perfect to me. And that zucchini is making my mouth water.

26 08 2009
the Provident Woman


19 08 2009

It’s me again- I left an award for you over on my site today!! Really been enjoying the Cooking Italy posts…this one was drop dead gorgeous!!

18 08 2009

Oh my gosh!!! That is a beautiful dish that you created. I would feel like a real chef if I made something so pretty! Good for you : ) Very impressive.

16 08 2009
Maria Paray

This looks wonderful! I think next time I will try the circles instead of batons, also. How nice that your husband is so reassuring 🙂 It’s nice when they know us better than we know ourselves!

As for the pasta – I usually let mine air dry on floured towels, but not in a heap. I cut them with the machine and as they come out of the rollers I lay them out on the towel so the strands are all parallel to each other but not really touching. Never had a problem with “(echo chamber sound effects) Pasta Syndrome.” You are too funny!

16 08 2009

Glennis! What a gorgeous dish. I love the rounds. Also the pasta is perfect! really great jobl

16 08 2009

You did a remarkable great job for a virgin pasta maker!

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