Thursday, September 05, 2013

Pasta Party

I'm not a huge fan of pasta, preferring to get my carbs via grains, potatoes, or beer. Pasta, to me, is kind of boring, not especially filling, and mostly a delivery mechanism for sauce. Last week, I had a pasta experience that changed my mind completely. The trick? Making it from scratch.

The real deal.

My dear friend and fellow MFA student Jen invited Nathan and me to dinner last week, where she promised to teach us the fine art of making pasta. She has an old-school, hand crank contraption (pictured above) that she swore would turn a mix of flour, egg, and oil into delectable strands of spaghetti. I had my doubts, but decided to trust Jen. We opened a few bottles of wine, threw together the dough, and got to cranking. 

I crank the contraption, while Jen catches the pasta.

We did it!

Once we had enough pasta, we dropped it into a boiling pot of water. Less than five minutes later, the pasta was done - freshly made pasta doesn't take as long to cook, which makes sense, but which surprised and delighted me to no end. Though that might have had something to do with all those bottles of wine...

Boiling the noodles.

Earlier that day, I made a batch of vegan pesto (two cups of loosely packed basil leaves from my garden, a clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast, a dash of salt, a glug of olive oil, and a few swirls in the food processor - heaven!) which we served with the pasta. Honestly, I could have eaten the pasta plain - it was delicious, chewy, and melt in your mouth good. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it. 

Fresh pesto to go with our fresh pasta.

While pasta making created a big mess, it actually wasn't that difficult or time consuming, and the prize at the end made the clean up worthwhile. I'm even thinking of searching for my own old school, hand crank contraption (after I learn the official name, of course) so I can make homemade pasta a regular habit.

I wanted to end this with something profound about how much I love cooking as a social experience, a path to self-sufficiency, and a way to nourish oneself deeply, but then, this morning, I read this great piece on the New York Times which sums up those ideas better than I. So instead, I'll leave you with the link and this lovely quote:
You could argue that cooking is the activity that most defines us as humans. Dolphins have a language; crows can create tools. But only humans can cook. By cooking, we transform the mundane into something sacred. And then we share it with others.


  1. I miss dinners with you guys. Jen made us pasta once, and it was divine.

  2. I've always wanted to try making homemade pasta but never have. Now I really want to try it - your pasta looks delicious. I'll have to try to find one of those hand crank machines!


    The hand crank machine is called a "pasta machine." You can get them loads of places -- Target, Amazon, etc. etc. The link above is for BB+B, to which I have a 20% off coupon, Chrissy, if you want it! I love this post; it was such a wonderful evening!

  4. I used to make homemade pasta with my gram with a machine just like that. We just called it the pasta maker. We also played with it too when we weren't cooking. When we cleaned out my gram's house my great uncle (her brother) really wanted the hand crank pasta maker so we let him have it. But now you make me want it.
    I love pasta and especially love homemade pasta. I used to have noodles with just butter when we made it. Then noodles with sauce. You know variety. But i'm not a big sauce fan so the red sauce was dry according to everyone else. I just claim they like their red sauce like soup. Oh my great uncle would make pesto and give it to my parents often. He made it from items from his garden too. But I never liked pesto. I still don't. I had a chicken parm recently and it came with pesto on it (not listed on the menu) and the waitress could even tell I was very unsatisfied with my food that even after she asked me and I told her I liked it, she didn't believe me and took it off our bill. (I tried to take off half the breading with the pesto and hide it under some bread on my plate. I think she figured it out.)

    1. I love your pasta stories! I'd never even seen one of these machines before, but now I feel like I must get one!

    2. I had to reread what I wrote. I really did jump around and ramble.