There are definitely more than a few foods I consider comfort foods, especially when food is my comfort. Pasta always seems to be right at the top of my list, though! Something about the way it cradles the right sauce, pairs well with wine, and is even better the next day make it one of my top comfort foods. Boxed pasta is definitely the easiest but if you have about an hour to spare (and some aggression to let out) fresh pasta is the way to go!
I recently received the pasta rolling attachment for my KitchenAide stand mixer and since, have become a pasta making machine. It’s SO easy!
Here’s what you need:
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- salt & pepper to taste
That’s it. Seriously.
- Mound 4 cups of all purpose flour on a cutting board (I use a marble slab so it stays cool) and create a well in the center
- Crack four eggs into the well and add freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt
- Slowly beat the eggs with a fork adding flour from the sides until a soft dough forms
- Once the dough forms, clear the board of he excess flour and continue to knead for about 10 minutes
- Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes
- After your dough has rested, cut in 4’s
- Cover the remaining 3
- Using a rolling pin (or pasta attachment) roll the dough out until you just translucent enough to see your fingers underneath
- (If using an attachment, switch to your favorite pasta cutter)
- Once your dough is thin, using a sharp knife, fold into 3’s length wise and cut into thin strips
- Repeat with remaining 3 sections of dough
You can totally get away with shortcuts here, boxed pasta, jarred sauce etc. For me, the effort of rolling out the dough, the focus that the meatballs require and the patience that sauce needs all take my mind off of whatever I'm stressed about. Maybe the one (or two or three...) glasses of Pinot Noir help, but who knows?
Once you’ve mastered the dough making process, the possibilities are endless! There are over a thousand different styles of pasta, each unique because of the way it holds the sauce. My ultimate comfort pasta dish is definitely spaghetti and meatballs.
Here’s what you need for the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
- 6 medium tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 1 tablespoon of basil
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you like spice)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 small onion
- A bottle of Pinot Noir
I start by finely chopping the onion and garlic, and setting them aside #misenplace. Setting my oven to roast at 375°, I quarter the tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and toss them in olive oil. Once the oven is ready I pop them in on a foil lined baking sheet for about 15-25 minutes or just until they’re tender and slightly charred on the edges. No need to remove the seeds! They’ll thicken the sauce. In a large sauce pan (I use a Dutch oven) add a tablespoon of olive oil and when hot add the remaining garlic and onions, just until they’re translucent and smell sweet. Add the roasted tomato and tomato paste and let the juices from the tomato cook down! There should be a nice layer of frond on the bottom of the pan, from the onions and evaporated tomato juices after about 5 minutes. Quickly deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of Pinot Noir. Once the tomatoes have deepened in color, add the can of tomato sauce and blend with an immersion blender until the tomatoes are in small chunks. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a wooden spoon will do just fine! Just smash the tomatoes against the side of the pot until you’ve found the perfect consistency. Then, let the sauce simmer for at least 45 minutes adding parm to taste. The longer the sauce simmers, the more developed the flavors become!
When I’m feeling extra moody, which is often since I’m 100% a cancer, nothing makes this dish better than meatballs. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (I use spicy)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon of mustard
- Teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
In a large mixing bowl add all ingredient and mix using your hands just until everything is evenly incorporated. Using a tablespoon, scoop out enough of the meat mixture to form balls about the size of ping pong ball. Once all the meat is formed into balls, cover and let chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
In a sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Add the meatballs one by one as sear until deep brown on all sizes, but not fully cooked. Add to the hot tomato sauce, cover and let simmer until fully cooked.