A bit back, I was deeply entrenched in my lit review manuscript – papers strewn across the table, chairs, floor – when I had the bright idea to make pasta. I watched a nonagenarin Nonna make tagliarini by hand on PBS a few days earlier. She’d been making fresh pasta every day of her life since she was six. If she could do it, I could do it.

Picture it: Me with no stand mixer, thus no pasta attachment; no manual pasta machine; and at the time – I’m so embarrassed – no rolling pin. No rolling pin*?!

That afternoon I abandoned the manuscript, gathered together the makings for pasta – flour, egg, salt, olive oil, water – and set to work in my tiny studio, with its wall-kitchen and no counters. The dough was stirred together and kneaded on the tabletop, then rolled out with a… paper towel-covered wine bottle. Scoff, laugh, snort – be my guest. I won’t hold it against you. It seemed like an ingenius idea… at first. Until it took nearly 45 minutes to roll the dough into 4′ of [luscious] pasta. I stopped twice to lose layers of clothing – nothing if not a great way to warm up – and numerous other times for “picture breaks” – aka “my arms are killing me/this stupid bottle is taking forever/why am I doing this again? I have plenty of Barilla in the cupboard” breaks.

Luckily I have the persistence and willpower of an ox. The final sheet was molto bella! Albeit slightly dried out edges due to the lengthy rolling out process.

pasta dough

By the time of cutting, I was in a pasta-haze. Wielding the knife was dicey. I’m glad to have all my digits still intact. Tagliatelle was first. Or rather a mixture of fettucine and tagliatelle, as you can see. Hung ever-so professionally over the back of a [washed] chair before becoming that night’s supper.


The leftover dough became ravioli filled with a mixture of chèvre and roasted rosemary-lemon-anchovy smashed tomatoes to be frozen for later.

Later being tonight. Finally. A swim in boiling salted water and quick sauté in olive oil later, the little pillows were ready for a drizzle of walnut oil and Sarvecchio shavings. To round out the meal were roasted root veg and a glass of La Vieille Ferme Rose 2005. [Still a budding oenophile, I was quite proud of my pairing.] The ravioli was rustic late-Winter comfort food – a marriage of tender, nutty pasta and tangy velvety filling.


*Rest assured, I have a lovely handmade tapered pin now. Many thanks, Dad!