Whenever I decide to eat more veggies, I turn to making pasta. I think pasta makes a great blank canvas for featuring beautiful added colors. Zucchini and tomatoes are great matches because of the way they absorb a sauce’s flavor. The texture of the vegetables has a satisfying chew to it, which makes it an immense pleasure to eat. In this recipe, a simple butter sauce is stretched out by the addition of hot pasta water. The starches of the noodles release into the pasta water and act as a thickening agent to the sauce. Fats like butter and olive oil help emulsify the hot pasta water and transform it into a viscous liquid that sticks to the pasta. A trinity of garlic, onions, and parmesan give complexity to this otherwise plain dish. Garnished with basil, this pasta is complete: aromatic, tasty, vegetable-loaded.

Fresh pasta is a breeze to cook. Unlike dried pasta which can easily take up to 12 minutes to become al dente, fresh pasta takes up to 3 minutes to become firm to the bite. Straining the pasta in a colander for this recipe doesn’t help much and is only an added step. Using tongs to transfer the noodles directly into a sauce is a preferred method of straining. The liquid residue that drips from the noodles, as you’re lifting it out of the hot pasta water and into the sauce, gives it further assistance in lengthening the volume of the sauce. It’s important to work with high heat in this step because it is necessary for the sauce to reduce rapidly, and since we’re cooking the pasta noodles in the sauce for an additional two minutes, that time will go by quickly. Bat an eye and you’re done.

Pasta Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Equipment:

  • Pasta maker with roller and tagliatelle and/or spaghetti cutter

Instructions:

  1. Place the flour in a bowl. Press your fist into the center of the flour. Twist your fist to create a well in the center of the flour. Crack the 3 eggs into the well. Add the kosher salt directly on the eggs.
  2. Using a fork, scramble the eggs, being sure to stay in the center until the whites and yolks are fully homogeneous. 
  3. Begin to slowly incorporate the flour into the scrambled eggs, turning the bowl slowly as you mix in the flour. 
  4. Pinch excess flour off of the fork. Using your hands, gradually fold the flour into the eggs until most of it is fully mixed.
  5. Turn the bowl over onto a clean surface area. Begin kneading the dough with your hands until it forms into a ball, discarding any excess flour that doesn’t stick to the ball of dough. A visual indication that the pasta dough is ready is when all of the flour is not visible (no dusty patches on the dough) and the pasta dough is soft and pliable. This can take 5 – 8 minutes. If the dough appears too dry, wet your hands slightly and continue to knead.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let the glutens relax for 30 minutes on a countertop.
  7. When ready, cut the dough in half using a bench scraper or chef’s knife. Wrap one half of the dough in the same plastic wrap while not in use. Roll out the other half using the pasta roller until desired thickness (setting numbers 4 or 5 on the pasta roller). Cut the flattened pasta sheet into several 10 – 12 inch pasta sheets. Roll each pasta sheet through the tagliatelle or spaghetti cutter to make noodles. Place the freshly cut noodles onto a flour-dusted sheet tray. Repeat the process with the remaining half of wrapped pasta dough. Freeze the noodles until ready to cook.
  8. Cook pasta (freshly cut or from frozen) in rapidly boiling, salted water for 3 minutes, or until desired doneness. Enjoy with desired pasta sauce!

Vegetarian pasta recipe

Yields 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb frozen fresh pasta (spaghetti or tagliatelle shape)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ small onion, sliced
  • 1 green zucchini, half-inch slices of half moons
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, rough chop
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups hot pasta water
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, shredded, as garnish
  • Basil leaves, torn, as garnish
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, as garnish

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, approximately 12 – 16 cups. Add a generous amount of salt so that the water tastes like the sea. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and zucchini. Saute on medium high heat for approximately 2 minutes. Add garlic and sundried tomatoes. Saute for another 3 – 4 minutes. Remove vegetables and set aside. 
  3. When the large pot of water is rapidly boiling, add fresh pasta. Stir to avoid clumping. Cook for 3 minutes. 
  4. In the skillet where vegetables were sauteed, add grape tomatoes and cook on medium high heat. Reserve a few grape tomatoes for garnish.
  5. Using a ladle, carefully transfer 2 cups of the boiling hot pasta water into a measuring cup. Set aside.
  6. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, lift the noodles out of the hot pasta water using tongs and add cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes. Turn heat to high. Add the other vegetables back to the skillet. Add the 2 cups of hot pasta water, the lemon juice, and the butter to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring and lifting the pasta continuously with tongs.

Assembly

Lift a generous amount of the pasta and twirl gently onto the center of a plate. Pick a few of the cooked tomatoes, zucchini, and onions and place visibly on top and around the pasta. Garnish with reserved fresh grape tomatoes, shredded parmesan, torn basil leaves, and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

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