It’s been said that the Inuit have 100 words for “snow.” I’ve no idea whether that’s true but I bet the Italians with their pasta can come close, matching them pasta shape for snow term. You see, as many pasta shapes and sizes that you may find in your local market, they are but a small fraction of the pasta varieties available, particularly if you’re lucky enough to visit Italy. It’s as if every restaurant there features a couple pastas that you’ve never heard of, each of which comes with some story behind it. Fazzoletti, today’s recipe, is one of those pastas. Derived from the Italian word for handkerchiefs, Zia and I were served this pasta for lunch one day in a small restaurant not far from the Coliseum of Rome. Today, I usually make fazzoletti with the dough scraps left when I’ve made some other pasta. Definitely the easiest of pastas to make, they are simply squares that can be anywhere from 3 to 6 inches long, per side. Personally, I tend to make mine around the 3 inch mark but two or three 6 inch fazzoletti, lightly dressed, make a perfect primo piatto. Whether you serve them large or small, you’ll amaze your dinner companions with your knowledge of Italian cuisine’s more obscure pastas. It works every time.
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Fazzoletti Pasta Recipe
total time: approx. 45 minutes (includes resting time)
- 1/2 lb. fresh dough, (about 1/3 of Mom’s Pasta Dough recipe or use dough left over from some other preparation)
- extra all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface and pasta sheets
- To serve: your favorite tomato sauce (marinara or meat-based) or your favorite pesto (traditional or Trapanese).
- Steps 2 though 7 are a partial reprint of the directions found here Home-Made Fettucine, Linguine, Capellini
- Be sure the dough has been allowed to rest at least 15 minutes before starting to roll it.
- Using a knife or dough scraper, separate a ball of dough, roughly the size of a very large egg. With your hands, flatten the dough somewhat, making a square. Set your machine’s rollers to the widest setting and dust the rollers with flour.
- Place one edge of the dough between the rollers and turn the crank, causing the dough to grow thinner as it passes through the rollers. Lightly flour the dough, fold it in half upon itself, and pass it through the rollers again. Repeat this, without adjusting the rollers, a few times.
- Repeat steps 3 & 4. In fact, work with as many dough “eggs” as you are comfortable handling. Just remember to keep the remaining dough covered while you work with the “eggs.”
- Once you have rolled a few “eggs”, adjust the rollers to the next setting and pass each dough sheet through the rollers. If the dough is at all sticky, dust the sheets with flour. When all the sheets have been rolled, fold each in half and send through the rollers again.
- Adjust the rollers and repeat Step 6, again and again, until the strips are the desired thinness. You should no longer need to flour the strips between passes through the rollers.
- Lay a dough strip on the work surface. Use a pastry cutter to cut the strip into equally sized squares. Remove the fazzoletti and place in a single layer on a floured surface or lined sheet pan.
- Cook ASAP. Storing dried fazzoletti is problematic and some breakage is all but assured.
- Fresh fazzoletti will take minutes to cook in a pot of salted boiling water. Once cooked al dente, reserve some of the pasta water and either pour the pot’s contents into a colander or use a “spider” skimmer to remove the pasta from the water.
- Drain, lightly dress with either sauce or pesto, using some of the reserved pasta water if necessary. Serve immediately. If you prefer large fazzoletti, use tongs to carefully place and fold, in a seemingly careless manner, the dressed pasta on each serving plate. (Remember: it’s all about presentation. You do not want a large fazzeletto laying flat upon the plate, nor is it desirable to serve several smaller fazzoletti stacked like pancakes.)
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As I’ve mentioned, I normally make fazzoletti out of pasta dough remnants, most often after making a tray of lasagna for friends. I usually have enough pasta dough and sauce left over that I can quickly make myself a nice dinner of fazzoletti. If, heaven forbid, I don’t have any sauce, I can either serve it in bianco or grab some pesto out of the freezer. No matter how it’s dressed, you can be sure that I’ll be enjoying a dish of freshly made fazzoletti that evening while reminiscing about Italy, as will Zia when she reads this recipe.
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