Let's start with an assumption: I LOVE fresh pasta!
Having said that, consider for a second the huge variety of Italian fresh pasta, which changes from region to region and from city to city, sometimes only by name, sometimes in substance. There's egg pasta, hard wheat pasta, long pasta, short one, hollow pasta, some are easy to prepare, others are elaborate… but after all, they all have something in common: their uniqueness!
Every single dish of fresh handmade pasta, in fact, is different from the previous one and will be different from the next one … and, for me, part of the charm of fresh pasta is in this absolute and one-off uniqueness, that has the flavor of something made with love, has the flavor of past years, of roots, of grandmothers.
This is NOT a way to tell you that I became a grandmother or that I prematurely aged, but is simply a way of saying that I like making fresh pasta, because it relaxes me and because I love eating it (do you want to throw it away? Nonsense!!).
So, on an evening where I wanted to prepare something simple, but special and tasty, I dug in my roots and I re-emerged with a dish of Apulian "strascinati" (=dragged), dressed with a sauce made with fresh cherry tomatoes, and adding it a Campanian "contamination", that is a very generous sprinkling of hard Campanian hoax ricotta cheese P.D.O (namely hoax from Salerno).
Do I have to tell you that it was a great dish or do I leave for posterity to judge?!
"STRASCINATI" WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND HARD CAMPANIAN HOAX RICOTTA CHEESE P.D.O
Ingredients (2 servings)
For fresh pasta
* 200 g hard wheat flour (you can also use 100 g hard wheat flour and 100 g plain flour)
* lukewarm water
For the dressing
* extra-virgin olive oil
* a clove of garlic
* about 20 cherry tomatoes
* chili pepper
* (rocket or basil, optional. I didn't have any, so I didn't use them)
* grated hard hoax ricotta cheese (you could use as an alternative any other hard ricotta cheese)… the more the merrier!
To prepare fresh pasta (a few hours before you intend actually making it) you have to mix the hard wheat flour (or mixture of flours) with salt and lukewarm water and knead until dough is smooth and elastic; let it rest for at least half an hour (but you can also leave it to rest a few hours) covered, so that it doesn't dry out. After this time, take from the dough small cylinders about 3-4 mm in diameter and about 3-4 cm long (about a half of your pinky in diameter and length). Once you get these tiny "sausages", place them on a floured surface and do this: put two fingers on your piece of dough and drag it (hence the name), pressing it a little, towards you. So you'll have your "strascinati": open them up if they seem to you a little too close. I have made a photo sequence, and I hope it will help you understand the procedure.
Let aside pasta and prepare the sauce while water boils (it's a very simple and quick sauce). Wash cherry tomatoes and cut them in half; put in a pan a drizzle of oil to heat and sauté garlic. After a couple of minutes add tomatoes, season with salt and chili pepper, depending on your taste (if you have some rocket or basil, you can add a few leaves of them). Let the tomatoes soften … and the sauce is ready.
When the water comes to a boil, put the pasta into the boiling water and, as soon as it returns to the surface, drain it, and then sauté it with the sauce. Sauté for about a minute (so that the sauce sticks perfectly to pasta, but before it becomes overcooked), serve and sprinkle with grated hard hoax ricotta cheese.
Et voilà! From Apulia (not only) with rage!