I’ve been having a lemon-pepper fettuccine1 craving lately.
I am lazy, so my first stop in attempting to satisfy this craving was a trip to the store. The store does not carry lemon-pepper fettuccine, or lemon-pepper anything, to be honest with you. This surprised me, as they did once, and the store is kind of a yuppie paradise, and it seems to me like yuppies are into flavored pasta. They didn’t have spinach or sundried tomato pasta either, which is a pity, because I really like spinach pasta. Almost as much as lemon-pepper pasta.
So my next stop was making it myself. I actually like making pasta at home, but I am not going to lie, it is a huge pain in the ass. It is time consuming and messy, and while the end results are delightful, not everyone is that hardcore. And that is totally okay. Hopefully you have friends who are that hardcore so that you, too, can enjoy the delights of freshly made pasta.
When it comes to making pasta, I violate pretty much every possible rule. Pasta purists, you may want to avert your eyes from the recipe that follows, which is basically a compendium of pasta sacrilege. The rest of you, come on in.
Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine (or some other noodle shape)
- 4 cups flour (first broken rule – I use your regular old all purpose white, not special pasta making flour. But you can use fancy flour if you want!)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon ground pepper
- pinch salt
- zest and juice of two lemons
Tools and Supplies
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A zester
- A food processor or blender – optional – second rule broken
- A pasta machine – also optional, because you can roll out pasta by hand
- Something to drape pasta on
- A large work surface
So. The traditional way to make pasta is to make a little flour mound on your counter (marble, of course), create a hollow in the middle, and work in the eggs and whatever else, adding flour as needed. This way looks and sounds all fancy, but it is messy and I always make a complete balls of it. Thus, I mix in a bowl, and sometimes rely on a blending thing for assistance if I’m making flavored pasta.
In this case, you want the zest and pepper to be well ground so they don’t make chunks in the finished product2. You can totally use a mortar and pestle for this and do the whole flour mound thing, or you can grind them in a kitchen appliance and make the dough in there as well. It’s really up to you.
Basically, your mission is to combine the above ingredients until they make dough. If it’s really wet dough, you may need to add more flour. If it’s oddly dry, throw another egg in there. This is another recipe I do by eyeballing; my goal is a smooth mound of firm dough that may be slightly tacky to the touch.
Your next step is rolling out strips of dough. If you have a pasta machine, make sure it’s on the highest setting, tear off a little chunk of dough, flatten it in your hand, dust it with flour, and run it through a couple times. Repeat this process until you’ve used all the dough and you have a little array of pudgy dough strips laid out on your floured work surface. Turn the pasta machine to the next lowest setting and run a strip of dough through, making it slightly thinner and longer. Repeat with all the other strips of dough. Turn to the...I think you’re getting the picture.
If you’re doing this by hand, use a rolling pin to get the dough as thin as you can. It will fluff up when it cooks, so unless you want fat fettuccine (no judgments!) make it thinner than you think it needs to be.
Next comes the fun part, which is cutting! I have a handy-dandy cutting attachment so I can run my dough strips through and get evenly cut pasta, which I then drape on my super-sophisticated drying rack:
You can also, again, cut by hand. There are hand tools for pasta cutting, or you can just use a knife, or put a cat in ice skates3 and push it across the work surface. Whatever works for you.
You now have lemon-pepper fettuccine! You can cook it right away, let it dry for a bit and stick it in a container in the fridge where it will keep for several days, or let it dry all the way and store it in dry form for future use. So many options.
I like eating it plain with butter and a bit of cheese, but I’m also partial to a little cream sauce with asparagus (because it IS asparagus season), after all.
Quick Cream Sauce With Asparagus for One (because really who wants to share)
- One shallot, chopped into slivers. Or whatever. I’m not looking over your shoulder.
- Three cloves garlic, minced
- 6-8 spears asparagus, cut into lengths. You can also use other vegetables if you feel so inclined, like dark leafy greens or whatever. Or fruit, like bell peppers and zucchini. I like to add mushrooms when I have some around. Mushrooms are not vegetables, though. Or fruit.
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Pinch nutmeg (This is optional, but have you noticed that I add nutmeg to everything?)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heavy cream
- Parsley for garnish if you want to get all fancy
- Parmesan or some other cheese for topping, if desired
- Your pasta
Tools and Supplies
- A pot for making your pasta, along with a strainer
- Heavy pan for the cream sauce
- Cutting board, knives, grater
- A wooden spoon or spatula
Start by putting your pasta water on to boil. You want to use a lot of water with fresh pasta.
Toss a chunk of butter and a dash of olive oil into your pan and heat on medium until the butter is melting. Throw in the shallot and swirl around until it starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. As things start to turn brown, add the asparagus spears.
Cook until they’re starting to soften and then add heavy cream to cover. Turn the heat to medium-low or low, depending on how your stove likes to roll, so the cream sauce will start to bubble and reduce down, but it’s not actively boiling. Add the nutmeg, if desired. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
When your water boils, add the pasta, and then season the cream sauce with salt and pepper to taste. It should be starting to thicken up – not a lot, but it’s thicker than cream right out of the carton. If necessary, add some more cream to thin if too much has boiled off.
Drain the pasta when it’s cooked to your taste, toss with some butter, and then pour the cream sauce over it. Garnish to taste. Flaunt it in front of anyone else who might be at home and then eat it, making soft growling noises when anyone gets too close to your plate.
1. Fact: I cannot spell “fettuccine” to save my life. I always have to look it up. If I’m ever in a hostage situation where someone is pointing a gun at my head, saying “you can save everyone by spelling ‘fettuccine,’” well, sorry guys. Return
2. Variation time! If you want to make some other flavored pasta, like say spinach, just prep the flavoring of your choice. For spinach, for example, I quickly braise a fistful, blend it into a puree, and then proceed with doughmaking. Return
3. Please don’t actually do this. Return