A tavola non si invecchia
At the table with good friends and family you do not become old.
This last weekend, I enjoyed one of the finest stress-free parties I’ve ever thrown. What’s my secret? Read on for clues!
Recent trips to Italy have inspired me to excavate my pasta machine and crank it up. What better way to renew my acquaintance with this machine, than to invite other food lovers to share in the experience of making fresh, homemade pasta? The friends I made in Rome on a food tour were in San Diego for the weekend. Thus the inspiration for a pasta party with friends of all ages to gather, cook Italian and swap stories of Italy. I cranked up the Mambo Italiano tunes from Pandora and soon the spoons were stirring, hands were kneading and bodies were swaying to the beat of the music. Are we having fun? It was a blast!
Here’s our pasta featured lunch menu:
White lasagna layered with grilled veggies ala TV’s “The Chew”
Fettuccine with spicy Italian olive oil, fresh Pecorino cheese and black pepper
Spinach pasta ravioli filled with spinach, ricotta and Parmesan
Fresh greens from my garden
Homemade Ciabatta bread made by master baker Eva
Fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream and my homemade limoncello
After a how-to demo of using your fingers to gradually incorporate the flour into the well of eggs and olive oil, I turned the mixing over to Laureen, the friend I met in Rome. The dough almost looks as if it is not going together but it’s important not to add more liquid at this point. Sometimes strong hands are needed to pull the dough into a cohesive mass. Laureen’s husband, Brent was our man.
His strong hands swiftly kneaded the mixture into a beautiful soft and smooth dough which we let rest for 20 minutes. Even though I’ve made homemade pasta many times before, I did some research and thought Guiliano Bugialli’s method for rolling out the dough was worth a try. First, feed the dough through the machine on the widest setting. Then fold the dough into thirds like a book.
Feed it through the machine again on the widest setting and repeat folding and rolling on this setting eight more times. After the ninth roll, reduce the settings to move the rollers closer together. Feed the dough through each of the remaining settings once until the dough is almost translucent.
With patience, Brent folded and rolled and I must say, the texture of the pasta was the best I’ve ever made. This technique is a keeper!
Everyone had a task. My friend Eva made a red sauce from tomatoes I canned last summer. Laureen carefully cut out raviolis, made from our homemade spinach pasta, and filled them with spinach and ricotta.
My mom manned the BBQ grilling thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini to be layered into the white béchamel-sauced lasagna.
Eva tossed a salad with greens from my garden, southern Italian olive oil and thick aged balsamic vinegar from The California Olive.
Lucky me for having a great friend who makes the best bread I have ever put in my mouth. Eva presented us with two huge loaves of crunchy Ciabatta with a chewy interior and perfect taste. She seriously needs to take this to the next level and sell her bread to all her fans.
The meal was coming together! A bottle of Prosecco and a toast celebrated our friendships. It was time to indulge!
È raccogliendosi a tavola che gli amici apprezzano la gioia di stare insieme.
It is around the table that friends understand best the warmth of being together.
If you haven’t thrown a spontaneous party recently, I highly recommend it. All you need is adventurous friends, happy, snappy, music, a few ingredients and a dose of quality time. It’s easier than you’d imagine and more fun too! Buon Appetito!
Thanks to Brent and Laureen for sharing some of their photos with me. Also, The California Olive is a great resource for local and delicious olive oils and balsamic vinegars: http://www.thecaliforniaolive.com
Abbandonati all’amore e alla cucina!
Love and cook with wild abandon!
Ciao for now