I’ve made it no secret that pasta is the one food I could never live without. In the past I’ve tried to give it up for lent or some sort of carb-free or white flour-free diet, but it’s never been even close to a success, and it’s not something I intend to attempt ever again.
When most people speak of pasta, of course, what they’re usually referring to is the dried variety you find gracing grocery store isles and chain Italian restaurants, but the good stuff, the really good stuff, it doesn’t come in a box.
Fresh pasta, in my opinion, is far superior to anything dried. Not everyone shares that opinion, but for me, there’s nothing quite like the silky texture and taste of a homemade batch of pasta.
Typically when making pasta from scratch, I’ll go with a fettuccine or ravioli, although if I’m being transparent, I haven’t even attempted to make homemade pasta in quite some time, regardless, when I do, it’s one of the aforementioned.
When a cookbook opportunity presented itself a few months before I had Teddy, I naively thought I’d be able to take it on, along with taking care of an infant. The topic? Pasta from scratch. Prior to coming to my senses and realizing that producing a cookbook this year was complete and utter madness, I managed to produce a few recipes for review, and this lemony angel hair was numero uno.
While flour and eggs are the only ingredients in my favorite pasta recipe, the combination is basically a blank canvas to add whatever flavors you feel like. Here, loads of lemon zest is added into the flour and bit of lemon juice is mixed in with the eggs and egg yolks, aiding in a zippy pasta that needs only a light and delicate sauce to compliment it.
Once the pasta is cut into strands it’s quickly cooked in a vat of boiling, salted water, and then tossed in a quick, spicy garlic lemon sauce that’s thrown together with some onion, garlic, white wine, red pepper flakes, and of course, plenty of lemon. It’s all tossed together and then garnished with a handful of flat-leaf parsley.
Simple, flavorful and my idea of the perfect pasta.
- 2⅛ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 whole large eggs
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt to season pasta water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like extra spice)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons chopped basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the pasta, start by adding the flour and the salt to a large shallow bowl and whisk together. Form a well in the center of the flour. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add this to the center of the flour well. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. Keep stirring and adding flour until the dough can be worked with your hands. Use your hands to work the remainder of the flour into the dough. Once all the flour is added in, remove from the bowl and knead on a flat, dry surface. Knead for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic. Try not to add in any additional flour, but if the dough is too sticky, add a teaspoon at a time until it is no longer tacky.
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic and let set for 30-40 minutes.
- Once the pasta has rested, unwrap the plastic and cut into six equal portions. You will be using one portion at a time. Keep the others wrapped in plastic until ready to use. Roll each portion in a rectangle. Dust with flour on both sides. Feed through the pasta maker on the widest setting. If the dough is uneven fold into thirds and feed through the widest setting again. Keep feeding the pasta through the machine, reducing the setting by one each time. The pasta is done when you reach a two or the second smallest setting. Dust the sheet of dough with flour and set aside. Repeat with remaining portions of dough.
- Once all of the dough has been rolled into sheets, attach the angel hair attachment to the machine. Feed the pasta through the machine to create your angel hair. Place the angel hair in nests on a floured baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel to keep moist
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. It should taste like the sea. Add the angel hair to the boiling water. Use tongs to gently move the pasta around so the strands don’t stick to each other. Cook for 1 minute. Reserve starchy cooking liquid.
- While the pasta cooks, start to make the sauce. Heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the anchovy paste and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the lemon juice, white wine and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wine and lemon juice have reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Once the butter has melted, set aside until the pasta is ready. .
- Using tongs, add the pasta to sauce. Turn the heat on low. Add the basil and toss until combined. If necessary, add a little bit (1/4 cup at first) of pasta water if sauce needs to be loosened up. Season to taste with salt and pepper.