The dictionary surprised me when I looked up the word “noodle.” It listed only the following brief definition of the word before moving on to several slang and some salacious definitions:
a narrow strip of unleavened egg dough that has been rolled thin and dried, boiled, and served alone or in soups, casseroles, etc.; a ribbon-shaped pasta.”
Years ago I bought a hand-crank pasta machine and I used it often to make fresh noodles. It lurks about a high, dark cabinet most days, stashed away with other little-used items. I must confess that I’ve found it just as easy to make pasta without the machine. In the time it takes me to find the step ladder and the machine, I can make it just as quickly by rolling the dough out with a rolling pin and cutting it with a sharp knife or pastry cutter. Fante’s sells one for only $7.99.
But I did hunt up an old recipe for fresh pasta that I acquired from a little old lady in Naples, Italy (cross my heart!) while studying in that country. A group of fellow students and I met her on the street and asked for directions to a museum. The look of befuddlement that crossed our faces when she directed us in Italian caused this dear woman to escort us to, and then through, the museum. My roommate spoke the best Italian, and did so with such confidence that we relied upon her to translate the woman’s communications. But she seemed strangely preoccupied throughout our museum tour.
We followed this poor soul to the market and then to her home after the tour. She prepared a delicious dinner, rolling out her pasta dough with a wine bottle, and generously served our small group. It wasn’t until her English-speaking son returned home that we learned she hadn’t really invited us, nor had she meant to spend her afternoon with us. She’d been on her way to the market and we mistook her explanation for an invitation. But she was gracious nonetheless and taught us to make fresh pasta, too. Her recipe and method require no fancy equipment, just a strong pair of hands and a little patience. I’ll share it with you here. Be sure to wash your hands before beginning!
Fresh Napoli Noodles
· 3 C All Purpose Flour, and some to spare for the rolling process
· 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 tsp Salt
· 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· A little Water
· Put flour into a large mixing bowl.
· Make a small well in the flour’s center.
· Put eggs, salt, and olive oil into the well.
· Begin mixing the flour and well contents together by swirling the wet ingredients with one hand, and gradually pulling the flour into them.
· Once most of the flour is damp, use both hands to further mix the contents into a ball of dough. Add a little water if necessary. If the dough is too dry the noodles will be tough.
· Sprinkle a large cutting board with flour and vigorously knead the dough with both hands, sprinkling more flour onto the board as necessary to prevent it from sticking to the board.
· Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it’s got a velvety and slightly elastic feel.
· Set it aside to rest for 15 more minutes.
· Sprinkle a little more flour onto the board.
· Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll them out, one at a time, with a rolling pin (or clean wine bottle if you want the authentic Neopolitan experience.)
· Put a large pot of water on to boil.
· When you have rolled your dough to the desired thickness, cut the dough lengthwise into strips about 1/2” with a sharp knife or pastry cutter.
· When all of the dough is cut to your liking drop it into the boiling water.
· The cooking time will vary depending upon the thickness. I make my pasta thick, and it is usually ready when it floats to the top. But pull out a piece and break it at its thickest point to test for doneness.
· Drain the cooked noodles and serve your pasta as you please, with Italian red gravy (we call it spaghetti sauce,) olive oil and Parmesan cheese, or butter and salt.
Those with gluten sensitivities can obtain a gluten free version of this recipe here.
Enjoy fresh pasta for National Noodle Day on October 6th!
Food Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals