“I love taking the simplest ingredients—flour, fresh farm eggs, salt—and creating fresh pasta,” says Chef Aaron Burgau, of Patois Restaurant in New Orleans. “I love the texture and all of the variations you can make, the different shapes that are conducive to certain sauces (especially this Caramelized Cauliflower pasta). It’s just…fun.”
If making fresh pasta seems like the kind of chore best left to chefs with high-end kitchen equipment, think again. Aaron says making pasta at home is a lost art, an absolute joy to make, and requires little more than your hands, a rolling pin, and a knife. Like mastering any culinary skill or dish, he says the key is repetition.
“You have to make pasta a few times to really get a feel for it. Working the dough with your hands, after a few tries, you know if it’s too dry or too wet,” he says. “Don’t worry about the recipe, follow your instincts—let your hands and eyes tell you when it’s right.”
You’ll know the dough is ready to roll out when it has a smooth, silky texture, he says.
“Get dirty, get flour all over the kitchen, have fun with it—the more you do it, the better it gets,” says Aaron. “That’s the best overall cooking advice I can give, and it goes for any dish.”
- 1 (1½-pound) head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 12 ounces Rag Pasta, cut into random shapes, recipe follows
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- Ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 4 teaspoons saba vinegar (see note)
- Chopped fresh parsley
- In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath. In a large pot, bring 4 to 6 quarts water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower, and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer cauliflower to the ice bath, reserving hot water; drain cauliflower when cool.
- Add Rag Pasta to reserved water and cook over medium-high heat until al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid and drain pasta.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat, rotating to coat pan. Add cauliflower, and cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add almonds, and toast until light brown. Add anchovy, garlic, and shallot. Stir in ¼ to ½ cup reserved cooking liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add olive oil, and then toss cooked pasta in with cauliflower mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide mixture between plates. Shave Parmesan over top of pasta, and drizzle with saba vinegar. Top with parsley, if desired, and serve.
- If saba vinegar is not available, substitute a balsamic vinegar reduction.
- 2 cups durum semolina flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 large eggs, lightly mixed
- ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tablespoon salt
- In a large bowl, add 2 cups flour, and make a well in the center. In a small bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, and salt; pour mixture into the flour well.
- With a fork, slowly mix in flour from the sides. Once combined, work the mixture with the heels of your hands. Knead until the dough becomes silky and has a slight sheen, about 8 to 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to 1⁄16-inch thickness. Using a knife, cut pasta into random-size pieces. Transfer cut pieces to lightly floured parchment-lined sheet pans. Let pasta dry 20 to 30 minutes before use.
- Fresh pasta may be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Be sure to completely cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap.
by Colleen Rush