I was talking with a friend recently. We were discussing the glories of Italian cuisine and especially of beautiful fresh pasta dishes. As it turns out, he's never had one! Poor guy, he's allergic to eggs and, while he enjoys pasta dishes made from dried pasta, he's never been able to find a fresh pasta recipe that wasn't made with eggs.
“Not a problem,” I told him, and passed along this recipe for an eggless pasta dough made from nothing more than flour and water. He tried it, he loved it. You will, too.
PASTA DI SEMOLA
(An Eggless Pasta Dough)
2 cups semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
Mound the flour in the center of a work surface. (I like a large wooden cutting board.) Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the water a little at a time, stirring with a fork (or with your hands) until a dough starts to form. As you incorporate the water, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape. When about half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together in a shaggy mass. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. You may need a little more water if the dough seems too dry. Add just a little at a time. Remember, it's easier to moisten a dry dough than it is to dry out a wet dough.
Once the dough forms a cohesive mass, continue kneading it for a few minutes minutes more (7 or 8 minutes should do it), dusting the board with flour as necessary. Go easy on the flour, though. Too much can change the texture and character of the dough, which should be elastic and a little sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using.
At this point, you can roll and cut the dough by hand or you can use a pasta machine. You can also make the dough in a food processor if you're in a hurry, but you lose out on a lot of the fun of making fresh pasta.
Makes about 1 1/4 lbs of pasta.
A couple of variations of note: some people add a touch of olive oil and/or a little salt when making the dough. Okay, do what makes you happy. I like the simpler ingredients. Some folks wrap the dough in plastic and put it in the refrigerator rather than leaving it out at room temperature. I've tried it both ways and it works both ways. And some people use all semolina or all all-purpose flour. Not me. I like the texture and performance of the blend.
Mangiare bene, i miei amici!