My local library was showcasing their newest cookbooks last week. I checked out “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook” because it looked authentic and, let’s face it, I liked the font. When I saw his simple recipe for pasta dough, I had to try it. Flour, semolina and eggs. It sounded more authentic than pasta dough recipes I’ve made in the past. That he provided the gram weight of the flours made me think it was going to turn out perfectly. And it did.
My friend Ivan came over with a jar of smoked hooligans he and a friend had caught and canned last summer. They tasted a little like anchovies so my thought was to make a simple marinara with the umami flavor of the hooligans in the background. After simmering the sauce for a few minutes I tasted it and knew it needed one special ingredient to make it just perfect – capers. The sauce instantly became a bright, flavorful combination that reminded me of my dad’s puttanesca sauce.
Combine that with the best homemade pasta I’ve ever created and we had a heavenly dish that I think Gennaro Contaldo would be proud of.
Fresh fettuccine with a hooligan caper marinara
Ingredients for pasta dough adapted from “Passione: Gennaro Contaldo’s Italian Cookbook”:
- 300 grams (or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 100 grams (or 2/3 cup) semolina flour
- 4 eggs
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1, 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 smoked hooligans, chopped (sub anchovies)
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons capers
- handful of fresh basil, chopped
Directions for pasta dough:
In a Kitchen Aid mixer, combine the flour and semolina. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients till combined and a shaggy dough forms. Turn onto a counter and knead for 3-5 minutes until a smooth ball forms. It should be firm and not sticky. Dust with flour and continue kneading if it’s too sticky. Divide into two balls. cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
For the sauce:
In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the garlic and sauté until garlic is soft and fragrant, about two minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, hooligans and capers. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, while you make the pasta.
Place a large pot of salted water to boil.
Using either a hand-crank pasta roller or a Kitchen Aid pasta roller, begin to make your pasta. Divide each ball of dough into four equal balls, covering the ones you aren’t working with. Flatten the ball with your palm. Run it through the largest setting on the pasta roller. Fold the piece into thirds and roll it through again. Do this about five times till the piece is evenly shaped and smooth. If it’s too sticky dust each side lightly with flour.
Move the roller to the next setting and run the dough through once. Continue running the dough through each smaller setting till it’s the thinnest it can possibly be. On the Kitchen Aid roller it’s setting 8. Drape the sheet of pasta on a laundry drying rack while you continue rolling out the remaining balls of dough.
When all the dough is rolled out, switch to the fettuccine roller. Roll all the sheets onto a tray dusted lightly with semolina. Boil the pasta for just a couple of minutes, until al dente. If your pot isn’t large enough you may need to boil in two batches. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauce along with the chopped basil.
Drain the pasta and toss with a little bit of the sauce to keep the noodles from sticking. Grate some fresh pecorino Romano cheese over your pasta and serve with a simple salad.