Today is study day at SUNY Geneseo, a day where students are given a chance to cram before finals begin. I however have already been forced to take two finals, so I took this opportunity to head to Rochester for the afternoon to hangout with a friend and make handmade pasta. A much better choice if you ask me.
Handmade pasta is one of my favorite things to cook. For someone who’s in the kitchen so much, I really don’t dabble with many savory dishes. Baking’s my thing, and I like to stick with what I know. But when I was living in Rome I had the chance to take a cooking class with Chef Andrea, who was equally as handsome as he was talented. Andrea taught us a handful of recipes, including this handmade pasta with mushrooms and sausage. It’s very VERY easy to learn a recipe when a handsome Italian man is giving you step by step instructions. The pasta dough is simply semolina flour and water, no eggs. It’s kneaded, rolled out, cut, and rolled again on a pasta board (or fork) to make ridges. The sauce is just a easy, and can be done in just one pan. Olive and garlic are heated before adding chunks of sausage. Once the sausage is browned sliced mushrooms are added and cooked until tender, with a generous splash of white wine. The pasta only needs 5-7 minutes to boil, and then can be tossed in with the mushrooms and sausage.
This is simple enough to make alone, but its always better to have another set of hands to help when working with pasta dough. Once it’s made it’s important to work quickly so it doesn’t dry out.
Cavatelli alla Boscaiola (Homemade Cavatelli shaped pasta with mushrooms and prosciutto sausages) recipe courtesy of Chef Andrea Consoli
Ingredients for the dough (serving 4 people):
4 cups of semolina flour
1 cup lukewarm water
4 pinches of salt
Ingredients for the sauce (serving 4 people):
– 1/2 lb of cremini mushrooms
– 8 ounces of ground sausage
– 5 tablespoons of E.V. olive oil
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 cup of dry white wine (Frascati or Chardonnay wine is preferred)
– handful freshly chopped parsley
– 1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese (to coat your dish)
Instructions for the fresh pasta:
Cavatelli pasta (also known as Gnocchetti Sardi or Malloreddus) are made with a hard durum wheat (semolina) flour and water (no eggs) which gives them a distinctive golden yellow color (if you want to increase the yellow color just add a few pinches of saffron to it). It’s not a difficult recipe, but you may want to have some helpers if you have large numbers of gnocchetti to make!
To get ready with the dough, make a ring with the flour on a flat surface, marble or board and pour some of the water into the middle. Add salt and draw the flour towards the middle using your finger tips. Keep doing this until you have incorporated most of the water and flour into a sticky dough. Knead it lightly, adjusting water and flour until the dough is relatively smooth and elastic. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 15/20 mins.
Once chilled, divide the dough into quarters or more for ease of rolling. Roll these out using your fingers into long ropes of dough about 1cm/0,4 inch thick. Cut each rope into thin “pillows” and then press each pasta piece against the wood paddle or tines of a fork with your thumb, pulling down as you press and leaving a small dent inside. This should add the characteristic grooves to the pasta. Patience, practice and helpers will win out here!
Either cook straight away, or dust with semolina flour to prevent them sticking while you prepare the sauce. Once in a pan of salted boiling water, they will float to the surface when nearly done, needing no more than 4-5 mins to be “al dente”.
Instructions for the fresh sauce:
In a large frying pan over low heat, stir in the clove of garlic with extra virgin olive oil and cook until it starts to brown. Then you can add chunks of sausages and cook until brown, then stir in chopped mushrooms and cook it with a lid over low heat until soft. They will release some water, then turn on the heat and remove the lid. Make sure the water will evaporate, then stir in some dry white wine and cook it until it’ll evaporate. In the end add season your dish with chili flakes if you like a spicy touch. Add freshly chopped parsley.
Put a large pot of boiling water over high heat. When the water is boiling, toss in a couple of tablespoon of salt with the pasta. Stir to keep it from sticking and cook for a few minutes until a piece of pasta tastes cooked
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the frying pan with the sauce mixture. I suggest that you use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to serving plates. Drizzle with Pecorino Romano cheese to coat the pasta. Season your dish with pepper if you like and garnish with some fresh herb leaves, and serve hot. It will be delicious!!!