After reading "Mastering Pasta," a new cookbook by Marc Vetri, I was torn between re-reading the entire book or immediately running to buy ingredients for the next 26 pasta dishes (literally) I was going to make.
Vetri, with contributor David Joachim, gracefully combines art and science while inspiring the reader to make their own handcrafted pasta dishes. The book intersperses recipes and Vetri’s stories of traveling in Italy and cooking both there and in his native Philadelphia. Beautiful full-page color photographs of the pasta dishes as well as detailed photos of the step-by-step process of how to make each pasta shape – from the common farfalle to the unknown testarelo (a crepé-like pasta) – grace the pages. By the end of the first chapter, I was completely sold. I felt that I, too, could master the art of fine pastamaking.
Now, this is not my first time at the pasta rodeo. Ever since I bought a pastamaker years ago I have been cranking out spinach fettuccine on the weekends, maybe ravioli if I was feeling ambitious. But somehow I could never win the pasta dough battle. And I have and single handedly proved that a recipe with only two ingredients can be easily messed up.
But no longer. Armed with my new textbook, I made pasta dough that was silky smooth.
If you think that you’re getting a book with only classic Italian dishes, then you are sorely mistaken. "Mastering Pasta" has not only the classic Italian dishes such as “Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce” and the “Traditional Semolina Gnocchi,”, but also ones such as “Pimentón Linguine with Baby Octopus, Jamón Broth, and Marcona Almonds,” a creative yet authentic approach to Spanish cooking and “Duck Risotto with Orange Sauce,” a playful approach to the famed duck à l’orange of France.
I decided to make “Fettuccine with Corn Crema and Charred Green Onions.” After hand-crafting fettuccine noodles and the corn crema sauce, I quickly mixed the fresh pasta noodles into the corn and onion puree.The piles of pale yellow egg yolk noodles with brighter hints of fresh corn kernels cut off the cob moments ago, atop with flecks of deep green and black charred onions created the perfect summer dish.
I think I’ll take on the mint pasta dough for my next project.
Fettuccine with corn crema and charred green onions
From "Mastering Pasta" by Marc Vetri,
Note: Any thick noodle works well with this recipe. Try pappardelle or corzetti.
1 pound (454 g) Egg Yolk Dough rolled into sheets about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 tablespoons (21 g) finely chopped yellow onion
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cobs
1/4 cup (60 ml) water Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 small green onions, trimmed
1 chunk ricotta salata cheese, for grating (optional)
1. Lay a pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface and trim the edges square. Cut the sheet into 9-inch (23-cm) lengths.
2. Fit your stand mixer or pasta machine with the fettuccine cutter and set it to medium speed. Feed 1 length of dough at a time through the cutter, dusting the dough lightly with flour as it is cut into strands. Coil the fettuccine into nests and set them on a floured rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Use the fettuccine immediately or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Take the pasta right from the freezer to the boiling pasta water.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and sweat it until it is soft but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add all but 1/4 cup (40 g) of the corn kernels and the water.
4. Simmer the corn gently until it is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste the mixture, adding salt and pepper until it tastes good to you. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
5. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking hot. Add the green onions and cook, turning once, until charred on two sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the onions to a cutting board, and chop finely.
6. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil. When the oil is hot, add the reserved 1/4 cup (40 g) corn kernels and the chopped green onions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the corn crema. Keep warm over very low heat. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
7. Drop in the fettuccine and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender but still a little chewy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a spider strainer or tongs, drain the pasta by transferring it to the pan of sauce. Reserve the pasta water.
8. Add about 1/2 cup (118 ml) of the pasta water and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, tossing and stirring vigorously until the sauce reduces slightly, becomes very creamy,and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Keep the pasta moving until pasta and sauce become one thing in the pan, adding a little more pasta water if necessary to create a creamy sauce. Taste it, adding salt and pepper until it tastes good to you.
9. Dish out the pasta onto warmed plates and grate the ricotta salata over the top.
Reprinted with permission from Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC