CLASSIC pasta garganelli with zucchini








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This is a classic simple dish from one of my favorite sources: Il Gusto Della Pasta, which I found in Bologna many years ago. The garganelli can be hand-made (see below). This presentation is a little unusual: the zucchini become decorative elements on top of the served pasta. (see picture below)

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons butter
  • four small zucchini
  • four green onions, diced using white parts only
  • two tablespoons of veal (or chicken) stock
  • one-quarter cup white wine
  • one quarter cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

for the pasta:

  • one pound of garganelli (or penne varieties)

Slice the zucchini into thin rectangles, two inches long and the width of the small zucchini, and at most a quarter inch thick.

In a saute pan over medium heat, two tablespoons of the butter. Add the zucchini and cook until the zucchini are slightly al dente. Set aside.

Add the remaining butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the green onions and cook for a minute. Add the wine and the veal stock, and cook for a few minutes to get a lovely, smooth sauce.

Bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until almost al dente  Reserve one cup of the pasta liquid. Drain.

Bring the sauce to heat again. Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir to coat. Add some of the reserved liquid if needed to keep moist.

Add the parmesan, a half teaspoon of salt, several turns of ground pepper. Stir. Cover and cook over high heat for one minute to get steaming hot. Taste for salt and pepper.

Put the pasta and sauce into hot bowls. Then decorate the pasta with the slices of zucchini, and serve!

how to make garganelli (makes about one pound):

  • two and one-quarter cups of all-purpose flour (or "00") plus a little extra
  • one-eighth teaspoon sea salt (fine)
  • three large eggs
  • one-eighth teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt and nutmeg. Make a mound of the flour and then make a well in the center. Add the eggs, oil and nutmeg to the well. Using a fork, break up the yolks and then gradually incorporate the flour and the eggs with a circular motion with the fork around the inside of the well. Continue until all the of the eggs are absorbed in the flour. When you can remove the mixed dough in one mass, place it on a floured work surface, and knead, always pushing gently on the flour, until you have a smooth ball of flour that is evenly mixed. Usually about 6 - 10 minutes of good hand-crafted effort to get the right texture.

Put a wet towel over the pasta ball and let it sit for thirty minutes. Divide the dough into four pieces. Take one of the pieces, leaving the others under the towel to stay moist. Flatten the dough so that it can go through the pasta machine. Feed the dough through the widest setting of the machine at least four times, folding and turning the dough until you have a nice rectangle of flat dough not quite the width of the machine. Now run the flat sheet through the machine, one step at a time -- tightening up the width by one notch each turn. Do not fold the pasta from this point on. Continue through the setting as far as you can -- at least a 4, maybe a 5 on most machines.

Cut the flat sheet of pasta into two-inch squares. (incorporate the cuttings back into the pasta not yet rolled out). Lay a square diagonally on a comb -- yes, a comb -- so that one corner points to you, the other pointing away from you. Place a smooth dowel or smooth pencil on the dough, parallel to the comb. Take the point of the pasta near you (should be about one-quarter of an inch) and wrap it around the pencil, and then with gentle downward pressure, roll the pencil away from you and off the comb. This gives the pasta its ridges. Stand the pencil vertically and the finished garganelli will slide off. Put them on a dry, clean cloth, not touching! Do the rest of the squares and then repeat for each of the other three rounds of pasta dough. Should be used fresh, as soon as possible. If allowed to dry they tend to crack while cooking.

Rather than a comb, there are specific tools for creating the garganelli. There is a garganelli board, or a small loom-like instrument called a pettine.



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