Marcella’s Fresh Pasta & Tomato Sauce
(Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
Marcella's Tomato Sauce
28 oz can of whole, peel tomatoes (we like San Marzanos)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion cut in half
Salt to taste
Prepare the Sauce:
Put the tomatoes in a heavy-bottomed pot—breaking them up a bit with your hands or the back of a spoon. Add the butter, salt, and onion (no need to chop! Just leave it halved and nestled down in the tomatoes). Put over medium heat until it comes to a simmer and the reduce the heat to keep a slow, steady simmer going. Cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove the onion and mash up any large piece of tomato. Taste and season with salt.
Making Fresh Pasta
Makes about 3/4 lb pasta—enough for 3-4 people
1 cup unbleached flour
2 large eggs
Put the flour out on your work surface and shape it into a mound. Scoop out a deep hole in the center of the mound and crack your eggs into it. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, very gently bringing in more flour as you beat them. Once the eggs are no longer runny starting working in flour with your hands until you have a well combined dough. Keep adding more flour if it still feels too moist. A good way to tell is if you press your thumb into the center of the dough and if it comes out clean, no more flour is needed.
Clear off your work surface and on to the most important step—kneading the dough! Here’s how Marcella describes the proper way to knead:
“Push forward against it using the heel of your palm, keeping your fingers bent. Fold the mass in half, give it a half turn, press hard against it with the heel of your palm again, and repeat the operation. Make sure you keep turning the ball of dough always in the same direction, either clockwise or counterclockwise, as you prefer. When you have kneaded it thus for 8 full minutes and the dough its a smooth as a baby skin, it is ready for the machine.”
This is your basic egg pasta dough and will keep well at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours wrapped tightly in plastic. Which direction you take from here will depend on what type of pasta you’re making and what kind of machine you’re using. You can simply roll the dough thin and cut into strips to make tagliatelle or pappardelle—no fancy machine needed. Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dry varieties, so keep a good eye and sample for doneness. A good rule of thumb is when the pasta it's floating at the top, it's ready to drain.
Fresh pasta is best day-of, but if you make too much, it's also easy to freeze! Simply form nests onto a tray or plate and pop into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the nests to a bag for easy storage. Frozen pasta can be cooked right out of the freezer into salted boiling water.