Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Weekend dinners lend an opportunity to take an afternoon off from running around doing errands. When the weather gets cooler, I love to spend the day making home made pasta and sauce. I found these beautiful, dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes in boxes at the farmer’s market last Sunday.

Dry Farmed Early Girls

Dry Farmed Early Girls

They were super ripe and perfect for a slow cooked Sunday sauce. I wash them well and cut in quarters. Cutting into the center rib inside the tomato I remove most of the seeds. This sauce freezes well so I prepare a large batch. I add the tomatoes, a good amount of olive oil, a few smashed cloves of garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper to a stock pot. Cover and cook on medium/low stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once the sauce is bubbling, I turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let cook down for an hour or two. When it has cooked down to a nice consistency, I add freshly torn basil leaves and another splash of good olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Tomato Sauce Cooking

Tomato Sauce Cooking

Meanwhile I prepare the fresh pasta. I use my food processor to make the dough. My general rule is 3 eggs to every 4 cups of flour, but it depends on the size of the eggs. This yields enough pasta for four people. Double the recipe for eight. Once the dough is formed I knead it until it is smooth, wrap it in plastic, and let it rest while I set up the equipment. I have an Atlas hand cranked pasta machine that flattens the pasta into sheets. Chitarra refers to the “guitar-like” strings on the tool I use to roll the spaghetti on. I got mine at Sur la Table.

Chitarra

Chitarra

Once all the spaghetti is pressed I toss it in flour and let dry out a little bit. It only needs about 3 minutes in boiling water to be beautifully al dente.

Spaghetti Drying

Spaghetti Drying

 

Toss the freshly cooked pasta in some sauce and top with chopped fresh basil and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. It is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Buon appetito!

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Some Basics

Part of the fun and challenge of loving to cook is deciding each day what to prepare for dinner. Like most people I get stuck in a rut making the same five dishes over and over. My teenage daughters are great about reminding me that I should switch it up. Usually the look of disappointment and the deadpanned “(salmon – chicken – tacos) again?” works. I do, however, rely of some basics to create new dishes. Homemade pesto is one ingredient I never tire of.

As I have mentioned earlier I am allergic to tree nuts. That hasn’t stopped me from creating some wonderful pesto by either eliminating the pine nuts or using sunflower or sesame seeds in their place. I always have basil growing in my garden, but I have also used arugula, parsley and cilantro for the green ingredient. A good amount of olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic bind it all together for a delicious boost to many dishes. As usual, I don’t use a recipe. I gather as much basil (washed) as can fit into my food processor and pour a generous amount of olive oil to get it started. Toss in a few peeled garlic cloves, a generous grinding of black pepper and sea salt. Then blend away! I add more olive oil until the consistency looks right. Add a handful of grated parmesan cheese, blend again, and you have pesto. Add this to scrambled eggs, meatloaf, risotto, beans and of course pasta.

Tonight I have grabbed the remains of some of that pesto and a hard boiled egg.

Pesto and Egg

Pesto and Egg

I have prepared some al dente spaghetti and have tossed it with the pesto. I have drained and rinsed a can of cannellini beans and quickly sautéed them in some olive oil and chopped garlic.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini Beans

Place the pesto spaghetti in a bowl, top with the beans, garnish with a half hardboiled egg and a dollop of pesto.

Pesto Spaghetti with Beans and Egg

Pesto Spaghetti with Beans and Egg

Add grated cheese – simple and delicious!

 

©All content property of Renee Fields and Farmer’s Market Table