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Today’s Pasta Cooking Class

First a little history with an excerpt from my first cookbook “Hartstone Inn, Signature Recipes from an Elegant Maine Inn.” The origin of pasta is a very controversial subject in culinary history. The Arabic countries, Italy and China have all laid claim to the creation of what has become a favorite food worldwide. Most probably, different versions of pasta were made in various parts of the world as a way to preserve grains. Early pasta makers would grind the grains, mix them with water and dry the mixture, which had the added advantage of cooking quickly. It was the Italians, however, who perfected pasta. The earliest evidence of its existence was found in Etruscan tombs that date back to 4 B.C., where a wall picture contains instruments used in making pasta, including a pastry board, a rolling pin and a pastry cutter.

In today’s Pasta Cooking class, we made three differently flavored pasta doughs (plain egg pasta, spinach pasta and beet pasta) which resulted in three very different looking doughs – white, green and red. After the doughs were mixed, kneaded and rested for an hour, we rolled them out, cut them into various shapes from spaghetti to pappardelle and then we stuffed others with various fillings.

We made a Sweet Potato filling for the ravioli and served it with a Pine Nut and Sage Brown Butter Sauce and we stuffed large Tortellini with a three-cheese filling and served it with a Chicken and Pesto sauce.
For the Spaghetti, we made a creamy Prosciutto and Red Pepper Sauce and for the Pappardelle we served it with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Grilled Tiger Shrimp with a homemade Pesto.

All of these recipes are from my first cookbook in the Pasta, Pasta, Pasta section from pages 206-225. Following is the recipe for plain egg pasta dough.

Egg Pasta Dough (plain)
2 1/2 cups pasta flour (semolina)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water

1. Place the flour on a clean working counter and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients to the center of the well and gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet, forming a smooth-soft dough (adding additional water if necessary to make the dough soft).
2. Knead the dough 10 minutes, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. This recipe makes a little over 1 pound of dough.