Ugh what I would do to live in Italy. Although I’ve only visited twice, I’ve spent a good chunk of time there both times I’ve visited. As you can imagine, my favorite part of Italy is obviously the food. Don’t get me wrong, the sites are beautiful and the air is fresh AF, but the food is pure gold. I had ZERO stomach or skin issues when I was just there. None. I ate whatever I wanted, where I wanted, no limits on quantity either. And even though we walked around a ton everyday, I LOST weight. Yes, lost. Why? Again, the food is pure.
Europe doesn’t allow GMOs which is incredible and the food is WAY less processed. For example: while we were on the train to Venice, the stewardess handed me a mini snack, a simple plain biscuit. I never ever eat train/plane snacks anymore. However, when I turned it over and saw FIVE ingredients on the back of that biscuit, I was in shock. Not only did I eat that biscuit, but it tasted friggin amazing. Remind me why America doesn’t do that? Oh yeah, mass production and shit ingredients. Gelato and pizza are definitely on the top of my favorite Italian foods, but one item gets me every time: pasta.
I don’t usually say this often, but I had the best pasta dish of my life during my last trip. While walking around Trastevere (Rome’s Lincoln Park/Old Town), a cute little man hobbled over to us and told us about his restaurant, Alle fratte di Trastevere. Everything from the food to the wine is sourced from Napoli and the food is only made in house. He explained that his wife was the cook and even showed us. He also noted that the restaurant was featured on Lonely Planet (which we checked, he was right). So we were sold. I wanted something no frills, no special ingredients. Something simple and light. Thank god I did, because the Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper) was perfection…and I don’t even like cheese (at least cheese from the states).
After some research, I found out that (I think) most of Italy uses “00” flour. According to Kitchn “Besides the level of the grind, the other big difference between “00” flour and all-purpose flour is how the gluten in each flour behaves. The gluten from durum wheat flour tends to be strong but not very elastic, while the gluten in red wheat flour is both strong and elastic. This means that with durum wheat, we’ll get a nice bite on our breads and pasta, but not as much chew. All this said, it’s generally fine to substitute all-purpose flour for “00” flour. You’ll notice a texture difference if you grew up in Europe or are very familiar with with products made from “00” flour, but all your recipes will still come out just fine.”
So being the Italian-lover I am ordered 00 noodles and tried to make my own. Here is the recipe I followed (I took some advice from Mario B):
- 4.5 cups of 00 flour (.5 is for rolling out)
- 4 cage free eggs
Put the flour in the center of a large wooden board or whatever you have. Make a center of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat the eggs together and then begin to incorporate the flour; starting with the inner part. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy).
When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough.
Continue kneading for 6 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes In a fridge before using.
If you have a fancy pasta addition to your Kitchen Aid or if you have an actual pasta maker, well bravo to you. Here at the Wilson household where we’ve been taken over by dogs, we have knives and a rolling pin. I basically rolled the dough out as thin as I could on (before I broke thru) and then sliced individual pieces with a knife. I knew The noodles were going to be plump, but I worked with what I had.
Side note, before you slice the noodles, get a pot of water on the stove and boil, so by the tim you’re done cutting, you can toss the pasta right in. Anyways, as you slice the noodles, separate them and let them “dry” on the side. We had wax paper, so I laid them out nicely while I finished slicing. Once I was done slicing, one by one, my noodles went for a swim in the boiling water.
The noodles took about 2-3 minutes to cook and I scooped them out while they still were al dente. Since I forgot cheese, I couldn’t exactly mimic my beloved Cacio e Pepe, but the end product was still flipping awesome.