Entree - vegetarian and lactose free
Asparagus, for me, mean Easter lunch and this is what I prepared for that lunch. Anyway, I love them and use them anytime I can get my hands on some... sometimes I buy them frozen. When you really love something, you do all you can to eat it as often as you can ;-)
For the dough:
200 grams Italian 00 flour (aprox 1 1/2 cup)
200 grams Italian semolina, milled twice (aprox 1 1/2 cup)
4 extra large eggs
For the sauce:
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest of half lemon
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley (optional)
To minimize cleaning arrange flour in a bowl, create a “well” in the middle and place eggs in it.
Working with a fork, mix flour and eggs enough to be able to transfer “crumbles” on a lightly floured surface without messing your kitchen too much.
Knead, until you obtain a smooth dough, at least 10 minutes: the time depends also on the quantity of pasta you're preparing.
Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Flour gets “stressed” when you knead it and if you don't allow it to rest, it will compromise the results.
While your dough rests, prepare the sauce.
Snap asparagus in two and put both pieces in the water. Cook to your desired doneness, then remove from water (which is where you'll cook pasta), and turn the heat off.
When asparagus is ready, cut it in pieces, leaving the tips a little longer. Scrape the "pulp" of the asparagus' bottom and blend it with some cooking water, enough to obtain a smooth cream.
On medium-high heat, warm olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee onions for about 5 minutes, then add asparagus pieces. When sauteed, deglaze pan with brandy and, once alcohol evaporates, add a few tbsp of the cooking water.
Stir in the asparagus cream and let cook a few minutes, or until it's at your desired thickness. Set aside.
Cover your working surface (usually I work on my table) with an old but clean tablecloth, one of those you won't use anymore.
Cut a slice from the dough and flatten it so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers at widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it's smooth.
Arrange the pasta sheet on the cloth and keep going until you set all pasta trhough the widest setting.
Roll pasta sheets through the machine, decreasing the setting, one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), passing all sheets through the same notch before decreasing it, until you reach your desired thickness.
Let pasta dry for about 10 minutes, flipping it once.
Now feed your dough through the fettuccine attachment and spread them on the cloth, to allow a little more drying time.
Bring the water you used to cook asparagus back to a boil.
When water boils, add salt then your handmade fettuccine and stir immediately.
Pasta will cook in about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Pull it out of the cooking water and transfer it directly into the skillet with sauce, toss to coat on medium heat, adding a few tbsp of cooking water, if needed.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with the lemon zest (and/or freshly chopped parsley).
- As a rule of thumb, when preparing fresh pasta, you should consider 1 egg per person.
- Please, don't use parmigiano with this dish.
- You can use dried Italian egg fettuccine or pappardelle, adjusting cooking time!
- Remember that fresh pasta needs a thiner sauce, because it absorbs a lot.
- You can find the video on how to make the pasta here (it was presented with a different sauce).