I chose my 2021 word. It took me longer than expected because it felt weird to pick a word that would shape the year ahead when uncertainty, despair and fear are the common traits of our contemporary society. Yet I am optimistic by nature, and Livia’s rosy cheeks and open smile gave me one more reason to be proactive, especially when the world you know is falling apart.
I chose create.
I’ll fight uncertainty with a zestful approach, hoping that a creative force will embrace and guide the unravelling of the new year.
Being it a traditional recipe, a seasonal dish, a new cooking course or a virtual experience, an online workshop, a cookbook, new family habits, comforting rituals, shared memories or simple, precious moments together, I aim to create something significant, something I’ll be proud of. I hope this will also answer a question that has been bouncing in my mind for a while now: which is your legacy?
The simple act of creating brings with it the concept of responsibility.
I’ve said it often, we’re just sharing recipes, we’re not saving the world. But in a world where food has gained such an impactful meaning, I feel the responsibility to share something good, recipes that work, that can nourish body and soul. I’m here to share what works for us, what I like, what I’ve learnt, rather than to teach.
Listening to Michelle Obama’s podcast on Spotify helped me to reinforce my choice. A quote from the second episode, an interview with the journalist Michele Norris, resonated with me.
Decide how you want to show up in this new world. Don’t reach for normal, reach for better.
And this is what I wish to do in 2021, reach for better, create something meaningful. Have you chosen a word for 2021? How do you wish to live the new year?
Herb-laminated tagliatelle with tomato sauce
When I was thinking about which recipe would better represent the concept of create, fresh pasta popped into my mind immediately. This is not a simple pasta, but herb-laminated tagliatelle, with engraved rosemary flowers, marjoram and oregano leaves.
I had to push an invisible boundary here, the egg to flour ratio. I’ve always made fresh pasta according to my nonna’s recipe – one egg and 100 g of flour -, but this time I wanted to pasta to be bright yellow, in a sign of vibrant hope, so I used 2 eggs and 2 yolks for 300 grams of flour.
Which herbs or flowers to use?
Avoid tough leaves that can tear your pasta, like rosemary needles or basil leaves that are overgrown. Choose thin leaves such as parsley, marjoram, oregano, mint, fennel fronds, or delicate flowers such as the chive blossoms or the rosemary ones. Petals of edible flowers like cornflower, nasturtium or marigold would do as well.
I opted for a simple dressing made with fresh herbs, pine nuts and the cherry tomatoes my mum canned during summer, so that the freshness of the homemade pasta could shine through the dish, the herbal notes a delicate hint to the animating force of creativity.
Make these herb-laminated tagliatelle for a Sunday lunch, and they will give a celebratory vibe to your meal.
Herb-laminated tagliatelle with cherry tomato sauce
Ingredients for the herb-laminated tagliatelle
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 150 g (3/4 cups) semolina flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 yolks
- 1 tablespoon water, optional
- 1 pinch salt
- rosemary flowers, oregano leaves, marjoram leaves…
Ingredients for the tomato sauce
- 1 shallot
- extra virgin olive oil
- 450 g (1 lb) cherry tomatoes
- fresh oregano
- fresh marjoram
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Make the herb-laminated tagliatelle
- Sift the all-purpose flour with the semolina flour, pour them on a wooden board or a large working surface, and make a well in the centre.
- Break in the eggs, add the two yolks and a good pinch of salt.
- Mix the flour and the eggs with a fork until crumbly, then knead the dough, adding a tablespoon of cold water if needed. Keep on kneading, more and more, as to develop the gluten which will give strength to the sheets of pasta. Just do as when you knead the bread: hold it with one hand while you roll it from you with the other, with the heel of the palm.
- After a while, the dough should have the right consistency: smooth, velvety and no longer sticky.
- Cover with a bowl and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- After this time, roll the dough. Whether you’re using a classic long rolling pin or a pasta machine, the most important thing is to roll it over and over again, rolling and stretching it as much as you can.
- Make a paper thin wide sheet of pasta.
- Scatter half of the pasta sheet with fresh herb leaves or rosemary flowers, fold it over itself and pass it through the pasta machine once more.
- Leave the pasta sheets for 30 minutes on a tablecloth dusted with semolina flour.
- Cut the pasta into 1 cm wide strips with the pasta machine or by hand, rolling the sheets up and cutting them with a sharp knife across intro strips.
- Spread them all out on a cloth and leave them there until you want to cook them.
In the meantime, prepare the tomato sauce.
- Wash the cherry tomatoes and collect them in a pan along with the finely minced shallot, the extra virgin olive oil, and a generous pinch of salt.
- Cook the tomatoes on medium flame, covered with a lid, for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, finely mince the pine nuts with a good handful of fresh herbs. After 10 minutes, remove the lid, add the minced herbs and pine nuts, and crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
- Let the sauce cook for 5 more minutes and adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, season with salt and cook the pasta al dente.
- Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese, toss once more and serve.
Serve these herb-laminated tagliatelle with…
We’re still in the middle of winter, but nothing prevents us from dreaming about the upcoming Spring, sprinkling fresh herbs in our meals, or frying little fruity treats for dessert.
- Pork sirloin with herbs. It’s incredible how a few dried herbs and a few juniper berries can turn one of the usual Sunday meat dishes into a roast worth of a medieval castle, juicy and flavourful, with a slight hint of wood and resin.
- Apple fritters. I always forget how good and simple they are, crunchy and sugary outside with a soft fruit filling.
- She is my fresh pasta guru, and she has a recipe for herb-laminated pasta dough, too.
- Another pasta specialist, Giorgia Eugenia Goggi, and her herb-laced pasta.
- Did you know you could make ravioli with your herb-laminated pasta dough? Marie has a recipe for it.