Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fresh Tomato Fettucini Aglio e Olio and a Food Preservation Class

This is the last tomato recipe for quite a while, I promise.  But I just couldn't resist sharing it with you.  The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and freshness.  And its source was one of pure joy for me.
This beautiful estate was the setting for a full day of tomato madness- tasting, cooking, "putting up", and drinking- everything that is possible to do with a tomato to save it beyond its summer season.  All of this tomato-ness was part of the series of food preservation classes at the Institute of Domestic Technology in Alameda, California (I just love the tongue in cheek, throwback to the 50s name!).  The Institute is a brilliant combination of informational and hands-on classes teaching foodies how to do everything from making simple cheeses to mixing up homemade cocktail bitters and canning jars of green tomato chutney.  It is the brainchild of Joseph Shuldinger (a Master food preservationist himself) and now has classes nearly every weekend for students from all walks of life.  It's simple, honest food from scratch cooked by people who love to eat.  What could be better?

My wonderful hubby purchased me a spot in the Saving the Season:Tomatoes class for my birthday a couple of weekends ago.  And it was certainly a great way to spend my day- laughing, cooking and learning from the instructors as well as the others students in a gorgeous setting.  The class was held in the kitchens of The Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, a beautiful home (the largest in Beverly Hills!) nestled in the hills with a surprisingly storied history which is now a city park.  As we chopped and chatted in the butler's kitchen, it was hard not to get swept up in the grandeur and history of the place.  But then there were the tomatoes, so many tomatoes...

The class was led by both Shuldinger and Kevin West, blogger at Saving the Season and soon-to-be cookbook author.  I was blown away by Kevin's green chutney recipe, so much so that I came home and pulled all of my green tomatoes from the vines just so that I could make myself a batch.  But as the recipe is in his cookbook which has yet to be published, I don't think I ought to be sharing it.  You'll just have to wait for the spring and his book!

What I feel I can share with you is the recipe for the fresh tomato fettucini that we made after a wonderful farmer's market lunch.  Made from three simple ingredients, flour, eggs and home made tomato paste, the pasta was the easiest and most fun ways we used our preserved tomatoes that day.  It was made even better by the laughter of competition between groups to make the best looking pasta while trying to keep our pasta machines held to the table without and clamps!  I brought my share of the pasta home and had it for lunch the next day dressed simply with olive oil, garlic and a few snipped slow roasted tomatoes.  Perfection.

Fresh Tomato Fettucini Aglio e Olio (With Olive Oil and Garlic)
Makes about 3/4 lb- enough for four servings.
For a printable recipe, click here.

You can make this pasta either by hand or in a food processor.  I prefer the hand method- there's just something about kneading pasta dough that I find therapeutic- but the food processor method is just as good and is a bit easier to clean up.  I'll give instructions for both.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped, pressed or grated (depends on how garlicky you like it!)
3 tbs chopped slow roasted or sun dried tomatoes

To make dough by hand:  Put flour and salt in a pile on a clean counter.  Make a well in the center of the pile and crack the eggs into the center of the well.  Add the tomato paste to the eggs and beat the eggs and paste gently to incorporate.  Slowly begin to bring the flour into the wet mixture, pulling in from the sides with the fork.  At the same time, using your other hand, build up the walls of the well.  At some point, the fork will get too clogged up and the walls of the well will collapse.  At that point, switch to using your hands to incorporate the last of the flour.  Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  You can add up to 2 tbs more flour as needed if the dough is too sticky.  Let the dough rest covered with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl for 30 minutes.

To make the dough using a food processor:  Add flour, salt, eggs and tomato paste to the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the dough just comes together, about 20 seconds.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead following the instructions above for the hand method.

Cut the rested dough into 8 pieces.  Working with one piece at a time (keeping the others covered), slightly flatten dough, dust it with flour and feed it through a pasta machine at its widest setting.  Fold the dough in half, lightly dust with flour and feed through the same setting.  Turn the pasta machine to the next widest setting, lightly flour the dough and pass through the machine.  Continue to pass the dough through the machine using even lower settings and dusting with flour as needed until you have a very thin and almost translucent sheet of pasta (this would be an 8 on a hand machine like an Atlas or a 5 or 6 on a Kitchen Aid mixer attachment).  Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured counter or pasta drying rack for 10 minutes, then cut into strands using a pasta machine's cutting attachment or by hand.

To cook:  Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, which will take only 1 or 2 minutes.  While the pasta is cooking, place the olive oil, garlic, and chopped dried tomatoes in a medium saute pan.  Slowly heat up the oil (on a medium or medium low setting) until the garlic becomes fragrant, stirring.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and place in the pan with the oil mixture.  Gently toss and remove from heat.  Serve, sprinkled with a few thyme leaves. 

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