1. It's easy. Eggs. Flour. You're ready to roll.
2. If you love small appliances (or, if the people you live with claim you're addicted to small appliances), you really, really need to understand the purity of a non-electrical appliance, and only a pasta maker can truly bring you that joy.
3. Fresh pasta can transform spring vegetables (sautéed, roasted, blanched, or even boiled) into the rock stars of the culinary world. Make your asparagus sing all of its greatest hits.
4. Dried, boxed-up, plastic-wrapped pasta of an uncertain age can never compare to the attenuated, sleek and slippery pasta you roll carefully over and over again until you get to the highest setting on your machine. Just seconds in boiling water and these glistening, ultra-slender strands are ready for a judicious lashing of butter and olive oil, a sprinkle of crunchy salt, and a twirl of the fork before sliding across your tongue and over your teeth to . . . bliss.
5. I'll give you the recipe. And there's another one below the photo.
Fettuccine with Asparagus Ribbons (by way of Cream Puffs in Venice, modified from a recipe by, of all people--I can't even believe I'm typing this but it really is a great recipe--Martha Stewart)
- 1 lb. trimmed asparagus
- 1 lb. FRESH fettuccine
- 1 Tb. olive oil
- 3 Tb. minced shallots (about two)
- 3/4 c. heavy cream (get over it--sometimes you have to live a little or just go ahead and invite company over if you need an excuse)
- 1/2 t. lemon zest (Martha uses a whopping 2 teaspoons--add to taste)
- 2 Tb. fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper and coarse salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and prepare an ice-water bath. Blanch asparagus until barely tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer with tongs to ice-water bath. Drain.
Shave asparagus stalks (not the tips) into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Chop off the tips and place shavings and tips into a medium bowl.
Re-boil the asparagus water and add pasta. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain pasta into a colander.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add shallots, cooking until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the cream, 1/4 c. of the reserved water, and asparagus. Bring to a boil and toss in pasta. Cook it all together until it's heated through, adding a little more cooking water if it seems dry. Stir in the zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and then taste to adjust seasonings. Transfer portions to plates and watch this lemony, creamy embodiment of springtime disappear. Serves 4. Or two adults and two children who don't really like it. Or maybe just 3.