Eat Good Food

Semolina Pasta Made Simple

When necessary, flour and water make paste. When inspired, they make pasta. And when the flour is semolina, all that is needed for transformation is an emphasis on less. Scarsa — scant — is the word to remember.

At a cooking school in Florence, students are each given two cups of semolina flour and told to mound it gently. They are handed one cup of tepid tap water and told not to use it all. Scarsa, the instructor says. When the pasta rests, they drink wine. When the pasta cooks, they drink wine. When the pasta is sauced, they drink wine. That’s how easy it is. It’s not magic; it’s just flour and water.

This is how it’s done:

Mound two cups of semolina flour like a small temple onto a clean cutting board.

Slowly add tiny amounts from one cup of still water, incorporating it into the flour as you go. The dough should hold together just barely.

For ease, break the mixture into two balls. Knead each one, intent on getting the water from the dough, using the base of your palm to press it out, for less than five minutes.

The dough will have a velvety texture, with the sand-like roughness of the flour resolved. There should still be water in the measuring cup.

Wrap each ball in plastic and let rest at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (Cue the wine.)

Remove pasta balls from the fridge and, using a knife, slice each into several circles.

If using a hand-cranked pasta machine, set it at zero and crank each slice of dough through, advancing to numbers two, four, six, and eight, cranking the same piece of dough through until it is as thin as you desire. You may have to cut the dough into lengths as it elongates. Go ahead and do that.

Change the setting on your pasta machine to cut fettuccine or another pasta shape of choice. Run each length through to create your desired shape.

Let the cut pasta dry in a rack or on a floured baking sheet for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare a pot of water as salty as the sea and set to boil.

Once at a rolling boil, add your noodles. Cook three minutes or less; it should be al dente, toothsome to the mouth.

Reserve some of the pasta water to thin your sauce if you like, and drain.

Prepare to receive all kinds of uncanny accolades. Chuckle to yourself gently. It’s just flour and water. And: less. Scarsa!

Eat Good Food

Stocking the Spring Pantry

spring pantry

Stocking the spring pantry with essentials helps you make the most of the season’s unfolding bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

With your pantry well stocked, you’ll be prepared to cook a wide range of dishes, and you’ll save time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips to the store.

Enjoying spring’s beautiful produce means letting the flavors speak for themselves. The following are some of the ingredients that pair well with spring produce to build or enhance dishes.

Anchovies Cured fillets, packed either in olive oil or salt (our preference, as these have a longer shelf life), add an umami depth to salad dressings and pasta sauces. Just one or two mashed-up fillets can be the magic ingredient that enhances flavors.

Black Peppercorns and a good pepper mill.

Chicken or Vegetable Stock Homemade stock for making risottos, light soups and braises, and pasta en brodo.

Condiments
Cornichons 
are an essential ingredient for egg salads, sauce gribiche, and charcuterie; Dijon mustard is traditionally added to vinaigrettes to dress salad greens, poached leeks, or asparagus spears; Capers, packed in brine or salt, are an essential ingredient in salsa verdes, remoulade, and ravigote, and add tang and pungency to chicken, fish, and pasta.

Dried Pasta
A year-round pantry staple, pasta is a great vehicle for spring vegetables as in Pasta Primavera. If you have several types — some long like Linguine and Fettuccine, some shaped like Penne and Orecchiette — you’re halfway to dinner.

Dried Red Pepper Flakes A pinch of red pepper flakes added during the cooking process goes a long way to heighten flavor any season of the year.

Grains
Quinoa (grain salads); Millet (muffins and waffles for crunch protein); Farro (salads and risottos); Arborio rice (risottos); Brown rice (pilafs, rice bowls, salads); Buckwheat flour (sweet and savory crepes).

Lentils A quick-cooking legume that makes a nice warm side dish or a fresh, cool salad. The tiny green French variety LePuy and Black Belugas are favorites. Yellow lentils are common in Indian cooking.

Nuts
Pine nuts, Pistachios, and Almonds, toasted quickly in a skillet, are versatile additions to be used in salads, rice dishes, and pestos.

Oils
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut OilMake sure yours are fresh.

Seasonings
A few seasonings from our SHED Pantry line that add great flavor to some of our favorite springtime dishes include Moroccan spice blends such as Ras el Hanout to enhance lamb and chicken dishes; Tarragon Caper Powder for asparagus salads, poached fish, and devilled eggs; Shiitake Mushroom Powder to add umami to dashi broths for poaching fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Salts
Flaky Maldon Salt, and flavored salts such as Lemon Salt and Green Salt from SHED’s Pantry line.

Vinegars
Stock a few varieties such as Champagne vinegar; Banyuls, a mellow red wine with a complex nutty flavor; White Wine vinegar and Rice Wine vinegar.

Verjus The pressed juice of unripened grapes, verjus can be red (made from either purely red grapes or a red-white mix) or white (made from white grapes). While acidic, verjus has a gentler flavor than vinegar, with a sweet-tart taste that is often used in salad dressings as well as marinades. You can use white verjus as you would use white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine—it is good in beurre blanc, or other sauces for chicken or fish.