Monday, June 14, 2010

pasta with greens and prosciutto

My own unwillingness to do the things that I know that I should and want to do continues to amaze me.
Every day, I feel like I have to start again. I walk through the work and interactions of my day, and, for the zillionth time, I gently remind myself of those aspects that someday, maybe possibly will become habit.

Think before you speak, honey. Weigh the meaning in your words. Make every interaction meaningful. Remember that everyone is going through their own stuff today. Have compassion, and even empathy. Don't talk too much when you get nervous. And don't be so hard on yourself either. We're all going through it.

When everyone is complaining in the kitchen at 5:00, give them all kisses, especially the husband.

When the girls ask to be read to, say yes. Time is not there, it is created by you when you decide it is needed. Don't worry about the mess in the living room. Take a walk. Then, lie down on the floor for a few minutes.

Tell people how much you like them. Don't use the word "but" in the middle of a sentence. Stand up straight. Don't speed. Be on time because you made enough time to get there. Don't even touch your cell phone when you are driving.

Eat greens for breakfast. You don't need coffee at 1 in the afternoon. Plan meals. Take meat out of the freezer two days ahead of time so that you don't have to soak it in water. Make pie for dessert.

There is time to make real food. Roll out pasta, regularly. It's better than the boxed stuff, and a lot more fun.

I guess if there wasn't so much work to do, life wouldn't be so exciting, right? As hard as I work, I seem to be heading more and more towards utter imperfection. Let's call it something else. Let's call it rustic! That sounds a little better, I think.

You wouldn't know it to look at those hard little "noodles" in the box, but pasta making in itself is a messy and imperfect process. Pasta making is the finger painting of cooking.

Chasing an egg around the counter with a bench knife--now that is a mess. As long at it doesn't hit the floor, you're golden. And as you cut the egg into the flour, the miraculous incorporation will soothe and amaze. But the kneading of the hard and impermeable dough? All your strength will be needed to soften that one. As you toss that dough against your counter, be rough on the dough but not yourself. Pasta dough is never perfect. Don't even try.

So, flour in my hair and dough encrusted in my wedding band, I roll the pasta through my pasta roller. Every sheet is a different length, and I hang them all over the kitchen, wherever I can find a perch for them.

My friend Eilen bought me this shiny little pasta roller for my birthday a few years back. Here and there in the midst of her travels, we have had the opportunity to make pasta together. She really is the one who taught be about the joy of a messy moment in the kitchen in the first place, and I like working this machine with her. She is one of those people who plans a dinner party with 17 different courses that she picked out of the latest Bon Appetit, and then she starts cooking at 4, and just laughs when she looks at the clock. By the end, it's 10:00, and it's just soup and homemade rolls and some little fancy thing to start--everything else has been abandoned over the course of the afternoon. Eilen stays calm and full of laughter and she's my hero for that.

The mess always turns into something that tastes good.

So, I keep reminding myself to laugh when I look at the clock, and to discard the menu items that just aren't happening. If at the end of all this, I've got soup and homemade rolls, that's enough.

Pasta with Greens and Prosciutto

For the pasta:
1 3/4 cup (9 oz) all purpose flour
scant cup (5 oz) semolina flour
pinch of salt
4 medium eggs

For the topping:
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound kale or swiss chard, cleaned, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
4 oz. prosciutto, in 1-inch strips
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese

Make the pasta dough: Mix the flours and salt and make a well directly on the counter. Pour the eggs into the well, two at a time. With a bench knife, incorporate the egg into the flour. When you have a loose dough, knead firmly for 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth. It might seem like this won't happen, but stick with it- you'll get there. With the bench knife, cut the dough into 6 or 7 balls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

In a large sautee pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and add the white wine. Bring to a boil and scrape any lovely brown bits off the surface of the pan. Let boil for about 3 minutes, then pour liquid over the onions.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Set up your pasta roller and make your pasta. Add the greens to the water and boil for about 4 minutes- then remove with a slotted spoon, squeeze out excess water, and add the greens to the onions. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. Drain and rinse. Toss the pasta with remaining olive oil in a large bowl. Add the greens and onions and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Top with prosciutto, shavings of parmesan, the red pepper flakes, and a final drizzle of olive oil.


  1. I've been quietly reading your blog for a while now, and I just wanted to say hi, and tell you that I love love love this post. You are amazing.

  2. too funny - nell and i are on exactly the same wavelength. i adore this post, and i can. not. wait. until chard arrives in my first csa pickup of the summer this wednesday!

  3. What a beautiful blog, and great post on pasta. Thanks for sharing your talents.

  4. That looks amazing. I've had homemade pasta on my to-try list forever! And I love proscuitto to pieces. What a great dish. (And hi from the Foodie Blogroll!)

  5. I haven't made homemade pasta in - oh, myword, something like 20+ years - but you've inspired me. I remember how much more filling the homemade kind was (is).

    Love your blog title - and contents!!