Pasta & Gnocchi
In Italy we have two main kinds of pasta, one made with flour and eggs, the other with just flour and water. What you call “fresh pasta” in America is made with eggs.
I’m not a great fan of commercially produced fresh pasta. It’s only the word fresh that sells it, but what you’re buying is a lot of water. “Fresh” pasta is 60 percent water; the same pasta dry is only 11 percent water.
If you make your own pasta dough at home, it will be delicious and perfectly safe to use.
Any 60-year-old Italian remembers this soft pasta as something made only at home.
The dough was rolled out by hand into big, very thin sheets. My aunt , who isn’t young anymore, can still roll out by hand a dough made from 16 eggs and 4 pounds of flour – a mixture of regular flour and hard durum wheat flour. And that dough is rolled and rolled until it is very thin.
That’s the secret of good egg pasta – it has to be worked and worked until it is very thin, then cut into narrow noodles (tagliolini or tagliarini) or wider ones (tagliatelle, fettuccine or tagliardi) and cooked in lots of boiling salted water.
Gnocchi might seem like something only a professional chef could master, but the italian style potato dumplings are simple to prepare.
Like many italian dishes , gnocchi have considerable variation in recipes and names across different regions. For example Lombardy and Tuscany malfatti (literally poorly made) are made with ricotta flour and spinach as well as the addition of various other herbs if required. Tuscan gnudi distinctively contains less flour but some varieties are flour-based, like thee Campanian strangolapreti, the Apulian cavatelli the Sardinian malloreddu and so on. Gnocchi are commonly cooked on their own in salted boiling water and then dressed with various sauces depending on the type of gnocchi and recipe used.
Some gnocchi can be made from pieces of cooked polenta or semolina which are spread out to dry, and then layered with cheese and butter and finished in the oven.