For my 2009 “I Dare” Cooking Challenges, I said that I would be making 12 different types of pasta at home this year. Of course, making pasta is not new to me – I’ve made: Fresh Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Burrata, Fresh Lemon Pasta with Spring Peas and Mint, and Pappardelle Pasta with Leeks and Gorgonzola.
This time I decided to make some fresh pasta (spaghetti or troccoli, depending on your viewpoint) and pair them with some lovely little fresh vongole, clams.
I really enjoy making fresh pasta and I find it therapeutic! There are several ways to make pasta, from the completely manual (hands + rolling pin) to the completely automatic (stand mixer + pasta machine) – I take a mixed approach, and I mix all the ingredients and knead by hand and then roll it out into sheets of pasta with a pasta machine that was S’ grandmother’s.
How to Make Fresh Pasta
Note: You can make less, but keep the ratio 1 egg to 100 grams of flour/semolina mix. This makes enough for at least 2 meals for 2 people.
150g Semolina flour
Salt, a pinch
Flour at hand
- On a work surface, put both types of flour into a pile and create a well for the eggs. This is a lot of liquid, so if you want, you can work them in one at a time or all together. Work the pasta for about 10 minutes until it gets elastic and smooth. Keep a supply of flour nearby so you can add some if it gets too sticky.
- Let your pasta rest, covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap, for about 20-30 minutes.
- Divide it into manageable parts (I chose three) and run each through your pasta roller at the widest setting. I rolled out pieces, folded them in half, and ran them through again, and then laid them to rest with a little flour sprinkled on. I used a smaller/thinner setting on the next roll.
- I use the self-patented “pasta forearm” which is using your forearm as both a guide for pasta coming out as well as feeding it into the machine. Set the cut pasta on a floured surface and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cooking. Make sure you flour up the final pasta a bit so it doesn’t stick to other strands. If you want to, you can dry out the pasta to be used within 2 weeks. I made mine into little nests and then used what we didn’t cook in the days to follow.
- To cook, boil in (healthily) salted water for 3-4 minutes.
Spaghetti alle Vongole, Spaghetti with Clams
Note: I recommend cooking the pasta a little ahead of the clams, so you can set aside a little pasta water when draining the pasta, and add it to the pasta sauce if necessary to thin it out.
1 lb. Fresh Clams
Garlic cloves, to taste (3-4)
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
(1/4 cup) Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup – 1 cup Broth
- To help purge some of the sand from fresh clams, put them in cold salted water for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If any clams float, throw them away. Drain the clams.
- Chunk or halve the garlic cloves and cook them in the olive oil with some hot pepper flakes if you want it spicy over medium heat. Don’t brown the garlic, but cook until starting to get soft, several minutes. Add 1 cup broth, or 1/2 wine / 1/2 broth to the mixture.
- When it starts to simmer/boil, add the (drained) clams to the mixture with a few squeezes of lemon. Cover, and cook for several minutes, stirring every so often. When most of the clam shells have opened, remove any that are still closed and throw them away (don’t eat them!)
- If you have too much liquid left with the opened clams, remove them to a bowl and cook down the liquid. Add the cooked pasta and to the mixture, mix well and cook for a few minutes. Take off heat, toss with some parsley and fresh lemon juice and serve.
This is all that remains after: