(Original Post Date: September 3, 2010)
This has probably been the coldest summer I can remember in Southern California. It looks like summer is finally here though… (now that fall is right around the corner). The weather has been nice and warm for about a week straight, and it looks like most of my tomato plants are full of red, ripe tomatoes.
At the beginning of summer, I found a bunch of tomato plants on sale for $0.99 each. I bought 6 plants, and planted them… two bushes haven’t done very well, but the other four have taken over the yard. (And it turns out, one of them was actually a cherry tomato bush).
So here I was last night, with a counter full of ripe tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, and about 1.5 hours until dinner time. I figured this would be a good time to make a nice summer pasta, from scratch. Fresh pasta cooks faster than dried pasta, and it has a much fresher taste… and it’s not really that hard to make. All you really need is a hand crank pasta maker (I got mine in 1995 for about $20). If you don’t have a hand crank pasta maker (or one of those fancy KitchenAid attachments), you could roll out the pasta dough by hand and cut it with a knife… but you need a lot of muscle strength for that.
I made my pasta with half regular flour, and half whole wheat flour – but you could use all regular flour if you wish. I also used cut up large tomatoes, and halved cherry tomatoes (since I had both), but you can use any combination of tomatoes as long as you end up with approximately 3-4 cups.
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1 c. white whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2. tsp. salt
Garden Tomato Vodka Sauce:
- 1 T. olive oil
- 5-6 large tomatoes, cut roughly (about 3-4 cups)
- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1 T. flour
- 1/2 c. vodka
- 1/2 c. half and half
- 1/4 c. water
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. dried basil
1. First, make the pasta dough. Measure the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs, olive oil, and salt.
2. Slowly stir the eggs with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little.
3. Eventually, you will end up with a dough ball. Knead by hand until smooth. You can add a few teaspoons of water at a time if the dough is too dry.
4. Clamp a hand-crank pasta maker onto a clean work surface, and set to the thickest setting.
5. Divide the dough into about 6 pieces, flatten each piece roughly with your hands. Take each piece one by one and run it through the pasta maker. Your initial pieces that come out will be very rough and make break apart.
6. Take each rough piece, and fold the left third into the center, and the right third into the center.
7. Run the folded piece through the thick setting on the pasta maker several times, folding into thirds again, until you have an evenly smooth piece.
8. Do this for all the pieces until all your dough is in this even state. You will end up with a stack of thick dough.
9. Set a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, turn the pasta maker to the next thinnest setting. (On my pasta maker, the thickest setting is a “7″, so I turned the dial down to a “6″.) Run each piece of pasta through. Then dial the setting down another notch, and repeat. Continue this process until you reach the thinnest setting, and you now have a nice stack of think pasta sheets.
10. When you reach this point, you may want to cover the pasta sheets with a clean towel until your sauce is almost ready. At that point, and your pasta water is at a full boil, proceed to run the pasta through the fettuccine cutter. Immediately put the fresh fettuccine into the boiling water, and cook for 3-5 minutes until al dente. Drain and serve immediately with your sauce.
11. To make the sauce (do this before cooking the pasta), chop the tomatoes into rough pieces. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add the tomatoes, and a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.
12. Cook the tomatoes until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. At that point, add the butter and flour, and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add the vodka, and stir. Turn the heat back on, and bring to a simmer.
13. Add the garlic and half and half, and continue to stir and simmer for 1 minute.
14. At this point, you can add meatballs or sausage to the pan (optional) and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.
15. When the sauce is thickened, taste and correct seasonings if needed. Add the dried basil, and continue to simmer for 2 more minutes. (This is a good time to drop the pasta into the boiling water).
16. Serve the vodka sauce over the cooked fettuccine noodles.