It's a lot easier than you think. I didn't even have a pasta machine. Or a rolling pin (we'll get to that later).
What I did have was some fancy Italian flour from Fairway that my mother sent to me via my boyfriend, who came to visit just in time for Valentine's Day and homemade pasta. He's a lucky guy.
The first time I made pasta was almost exactly a year ago. Last Valentine's Day, while I was in Rome, I took a cooking class and we made tagliolini all'amatriciana. I haven't attempted to recreate the dish since then, so I figured it was time to try my hand at pasta-making without a very skilled Italian chef leading the way.
Except that I wanted pappardelle bolognese, like what I had when I was in Tuscany. Since I had never made pappardelle before, I followed Michael Chiarello's recipe. I halved it, since I was only cooking for my boyfriend and me, but I almost instantly regretted that because now I don't have a ready-to-shape ball of pasta dough in my freezer waiting for me. I would suggest making the full recipe.
This meal is super easy and doesn't nearly warrant as much praise as it receives. The bolognese is simple and hearty and can be made far in advance or just before (I made mine a couple of hours before serving so that the flavors had plenty of time to meld together).
Remember that rolling pin I told you I didn't have? Right. So I used a can of Pam Spray (except it's not even the brand name kind, that's too much of a splurge for a college budget). As per expected, this method of rolling pasta didn't yield quite as thin a sheet as I would have liked, but it was no less delicious.
I could have gotten all fancy and measured out the width of each individual noodle, but I chose to cut them freeform instead. Some were thinner and some were definitely thicker, but who cares when they're smothered in sauce and cheese?
(makes 4 servings)
1 lb meatloaf mix ground meat (trio of ground veal, pork, and beef)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced (you can add more, I don't love celery)
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. red wine
1 28 oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced vegetables and cook until tender. Add meat and begin to brown, making sure to break up the larger pieces.
Add chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked off. Add wine and simmer until liquid has cooked off.
Add crushed tomatoes and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened up. Add herbs, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Let sauce simmer for another 20 minutes. At this point it is ready to serve, though it'll only get better the longer it sits. I usually cover it and leave it on the stove, that way it's ready to warm up once the pasta is done.
*A quick note about Chiarello's pasta recipe: you cook the pasta for around 4 minutes, though taste it as it's cooking to make sure. I'm not sure why he doesn't include cooking instructions, since cooking fresh pasta is timed differently than dry pasta.
** Another note about these pictures! As you can see, my hands are elbow deep in pasta dough in most of them, which means that I was not the sole photographer. My best friend/very talented photograhpher Rachel took pictures 2, 3, and 4. My wonderfully helpful boyfriend Chris took pictures 5 and 6, and I photographed the rest.