After a several month hiatus, I am finally back to food blogging! The end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 were quite busy. We took a two week trip to Italy, had a lengthy holiday vacation, and I transitioned to a new job. But things are beginning to settle down again, and I am excited to share some new recipes with you.
Today’s recipe was inspired by our trip to Italy. This trip was the highlight of our 2016. We traveled all over Italy, from Venice to Florence and Tuscany, to Cinque Terre, to Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Naples, and finally to Rome! Along the way, we learned about the history of Italy, visited many magnificent churches and ancient landmarks, saw some of the world’s best art, took in many stunning countryside and coastal views, ate the most delicious pastas, cheeses, pastries and gelato, and enjoyed some great wines! We really loved this country – the culture, the people, of course the food!
One of the highlights of the trip was the food tour and cooking class we took during our time in Florence. (The tour was with Walkabout Florence; I highly recommend them if you travel to this part of Italy.) We learned about the food history of Florence while shopping at small shops and farmers markets for fresh ingredients to cook with. Next we traveled to a beautiful kitchen in the Tuscan hills overlooking Florence, where we spent the afternoon learning to make bruschetta, pizza, fresh pasta with ragu, pork roast, potatoes, gelato, and tiramisu, from a very energetic Italian grandmother. By the end of the day, we were stuffed, had learned several classic Italian cooking techniques, and had made some new friends.
The recipe I am sharing today is a slight spin on the pasta we learned to make during our Italian cooking class. In the Florence/Tuscany region their signature ragu dish is made with beef, but in this recipe I have substituted mushrooms to make it vegetarian and a big lighter (perfect for spring). Making the fresh egg pasta does take a bit of work, but I promise you it’s worth it! Here we make Tagliatelle, a long ribbon pasta of medium thickness. But the recipe can be used to make all types of pastas, such as pappardelle, lasagna, ravioli and tortellini.
In Italy, dinners are an all evening event. There are several courses and pasta is typically a first or second course. The recipe below works for a main dish, but I encourage you to embrace the Italian way and enjoy a slow, relaxed dinner with plenty of wine!
- 2 celery stalks
- Half a large onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 14 oz mushrooms
- 1 glass of red wine (such as Chianti Classico)
- 18 oz of tomato passata (puree)
- 250 g (9 oz) All Purpose Flour + more for kneading/rolling dough
- 3 eggs
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- To get the ragu started, chop the celery, onion and carrot. Put the chopped vegetables in a large saucepan with the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Saute until golden brown.
- Put the mushrooms in a food processor, and pulse until they are broken down into small pieces. Add to the pot and continue to saute until they are lightly browned and have released their water.
- Add the wine and continue to cook until the wine has been soaked up.
- When there is no more liquid, add the tomato passata or puree and salt to taste. Simmer for 2 hours until the ragu has thickened and is a deep red color.
- Meanwhile to make the pasta, place the flour on a clean work surface, and form a volcano-shaped mound with a well in the center. Break the eggs into the middle and add a pinch of salt. Slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs with a fork, using your other hand to keep the shape of the volcano. Continue to mix the flour into the eggs with your hands until it forms a coarse paste.
- Clean your hands and the work surface and lightly sprinkle with flour. Start to knead the dough with the heel of one hand. Continue to knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If the dough gets hard, wet your hands and continue to knead and it will become softer.
- Wrap the dough in cling wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Next place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and gently roll it out with a rolling pin, flipping and turning the dough each time as you roll it out (*If you have a pasta maker/roller, you can use that here instead). Continue this process until you have a sheet of roughly 3 mm in thickness.
- Starting at one end, fold the dough over itself little by little, sprinkling a little flour over the dough each time to prevent sticking, until you have one long log.
- Cut into ⅜ inch rolls, then open them and place in a pile on a clean surface. Allow them to rest for 30 minutes.
- Once the ragu is done, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta for a couple minutes or until al dente.
- Divide pasta among bowls and top with the ragu and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.