pasta-007Recently, Rob and I were very excited about the prospect of meeting Jamie Oliver at a lecture sponsored by WSHU. I reserved tickets for us as part of his birthday present this year. Well, it turned out that Jamie’s flight was cancelled so our plans were thwarted…unfortunately we did not know this until we arrived at Sacred Heart University and saw some signs posted!

All was not lost. First off, on the way back we stopped at Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven and picked up a small mozz pie made in their coal-fired brick oven. We strolled Wooster Street with our pie, jealous onlookers eyeing us closely, then popped into Libby’s for some lemon italian ice in a squeeze cup, some pignolati, and some tiramisu for later.

So what does all of this have to do with pasta? Well, in one of Jamie’s early cookbooks, which we’ve had for a while, there are two recipes for homemade pasta along with several recipes for accompaniments. If you know Jamie’s cookbooks, you know that the pictures are beautiful and inspiring. We’ve been wanting to try these recipes for a while.

So what better time than now? If we can’t meet Jamie, we decided we’d bring a little bit of Jamie into our home. Now’s the part where I tell you what we thought of his recipe.

We used the basic dough recipe which called for 1 lb of flour and five eggs. I added a sixth egg and a little more flour until the dough was easy to work with. I let it rest for about 20 minutes on the counter, covered with plastic. Then I started kneading it through the pasta machine that I recently picked up at a church tag sale (thanks Nancy!)

After a few passes through the widest setting on the pasta machine, folding the dough into thirds after each pass, I began to roll it thinner. This took some experimentation. The first batch was too thick (assembled into ravioli and boiled produced really tough pasta). The second batch was too thin (cooked ravioli felt a little like jellyfish in the mouth – too flimsy and tender). The third batch was just right, rolled to the #6 setting on my Atlas pasta machine.

Need a visual?  See pictures of us rolling pasta with our new machine.

But to be honest, the flavor of the pasta was not my favorite. Topped with Rob’s hearty tomato sauce the flavor was not so noticeable. But tasted plain, I could not get the phrase “scrambled eggs” out of my mind. Just too eggy, both in flavor and texture.

Incidentally, the egginess may have had something to do with our filling, which in all cases was completely lost (flavor-wise) in a sea of pasta and sauce. We used one 16oz. container of ricotta with two eggs added (plus a little s&p and nutmeg). It was a bit runny and didn’t have a strong ricotta flavor in the end. I would try straining the ricotta and adding one egg (or perhaps just one egg yolk?), then add a little more filling to each ravioli. I will say that they sealed very nicely (particularly when we were careful to remove all air pockets) so could likely handle more filling next time without exploding in the boiling water.

So there you have it! To anyone who reads this and finds it mildly useful or interesting, I invite your comments and suggestions for Part II of our Pasta Adventure (timing TBD – pasta-making is time-consuming and messy!)