Episode 1: Croxetti (Pasta Coins) with Pine Nut-Butter Sauce
We learned how to make Croxetti, this coin-shaped pasta at Giandriale, one of the first farms we visited on our agritourismo trip. The style of cooking here was very rustic and family style. The mother of the family, Lucia, ran the kitchen. She's not a gourmet chef, but a very good cook. Croxetti are a good example of how she cooks: delicious but not fussy-she lets the ingredients speak for themselves.
You put 3-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour in a pile on your work surface. Then make a well in the center and crack 4 eggs into the well. Then with a fork, you beat the eggs and start gradually pulling some of the flour into the well, incorporating it into the eggs gradually until they flour and eggs are completely combined. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Then cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
To roll out your dough, you can use either a hand-cranked pasta machine or a pasta attachment for your stand mixer. Cut the dough into 6 pieces, and cover the ones you're not working on with a towel. Set the pasta machine on the widest setting and pass the dough through. Then fold the dough in thirds, and pass it through again.
A lot of pasta recipes in America will tell you to do this roll-and-fold thing three times but we noticed all over Italy they'd do it again and again until the dough was really smooth and satiny. So once you have the texture you like, start adjusting the rollers down a notch each time you roll-at this point you don't fold it, you just pass it through on thinner and thinner settings, to the second-thinnest settings. Then you just do the exact same thing for your other five pieces of dough.
Once the pasta is rolled out, you use a small round cookie cutter to stamp out the coins-about the size of silver dollars. Actually in Liguria there are these special stamps that imprint an elaborate design into the coins, but it can be hard to find these here in the states. Once you've stamped out all of the coins, dust them with flour until you're ready to cook them.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and salt it well.
Meanwhile begin making the sauce. You start by melting 4 Tbs. of unsalted butter. And then in a blender, you put 1 cup of pine nuts, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup of whole milk, and 2 Tbs. of chopped marjoram. Blend everything until it's smooth. And then once your butter is melted, you add it gradually to the blender while the motor's running.
Now add the pasta to the boiling water. These cook so quickly-just 2 or 3 minutes, so keep a close eye on them. When your pasta's cooked, reserve a 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta really well. Add the 1/4 cup of cooking water to the sauce, and then toss it back with the pasta. Finally, grate a little Parmigiano over the whole dish before serving.
|Episode 1: Croxetti (Pasta Coins) with Pine Nut-Butter Sauce||Episode 2: Butternut Squash Gnocchi||Episode 3: Spinach Malfatti (Dumplings)|
|Episode 4: Bergamo-Style Ravioli||Episode 5: Bigoli with Duck Ragu||Episode 6: Pasta Imbottita (Cheese Pillows in Broth)|
|Episode 7: Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Walnut Butter Sauce||Episode 8: Cappelletti with Wild Mushroom Sauce||Episode 9: Spinach, Ricotta and Egg Yolk Raviolo|