Last Meal: A Pasta Recipe from Bugialli!


We’ve been cooking from Giuliano Bugialli’s books for many years, so it was a real treat to interview the lovably droll Italian author and teacher this week. Bugialli steers clear of most Italian restaurants in this town, and makes his wn pasta when he wants. If you can’t score an invitation, you can try it yourself, with the very simple and detailed recipe below, from his book Bugialli on Pasta.

Pasta con Pepe Nero
Black Pepper Pasta
serves 4 to 6

For the Pasta
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
pinch of salt

For the Sauce
1 pound ripe, fresh tomatoes; or 1 pound canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian, drained
1 medium-sized clove garlic, peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Cook the Pasta
coarse-grained salt

To Serve
25 large sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only

Prepare the pepper pasta using the ingredients and quantities listed, placing the ground pepper in the flour well together with the eggs and salt, following directions [below]:

Basic technique for making fresh pasta:
1. Place the flour in mound on a pasta board. Use a fork to make a well in the center.
2. Put the eggs, and other ingredients specified in the recipe, in the well.
3. With a fork, first mix together the eggs and other ingredients,
4. then begin to incorporate the four from the inner rim of the wall, always incorporating fresh flour from the lower part, pushing it under the dough that is forming to keep it from sticking to the board, Remove pieces of dough attached to the fork.
5. Put the pieces of the dough together with your hands.
6. Scrape the board with a pastry scraper, gathering together all the unincorporated flour as well as the pieces of dough coated with flour.
7. Place this flour with the pieces of dough in a sifter. Resting the sifter on the board and using one hand, “clean” the board by moving the sifter back and forth. The globules f dough will remain in the screen and not filter through. Discard them because, being already coated with flour, they will not integrate into the wet dough and will cause lumps, which will make holes when the dough is stretched.
8. Start kneading the dough using the palm of one hand,
9. and folding the dough over with the other hand, absorbing the leftover flour from the board. Do not sprinkle the flour over the dough. Continue kneading, for a bout 5 minutes, absorbing the flour until the dough is no longer wet and all but 4 or 5 tablespoons have been incorporated (the remaining flour will be used for a second kneading of the dough). If you intend to stretch the dough by machine, knead for only 2-3 minutes. The amount of flour left over will remain about the same.
10. A ball of elastic and smooth dough should be the result of kneading the dough for this length of time. You can now do the additional kneading or stretching of the dough either by hand or with a pasta machine.

Stretch the sheet to about 1/16 inch thick–on the pasta machine, take it to the next to last setting, and cut it into tagliatelle [Roll up the sheet and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Unroll the noodles to dry]. Let the tagliatelle rest on cotton towels until needed.

If using fresh tomatoes, cut them into pieces. Place fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic, and oil in a medium-sized nonreactive saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Pass the contents of the pan through a food mill, using the disc with the smallest holes, into a medium-sized crockery or glass bowl. Return the strained tomatoes to the saucepan and reduce the sauce over low heat for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil, add coarse salt to taste, then add the pasta and cook for 1 to 3 minutes depending on dryness. When the pasta is ready, drain and transfer it to a warmed serving dish, pour the sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the parsley. Toss very well and serve immediately. No cheese should be served with this.

From Bugialli on Pasta, Revised and Enlarged Edition, by Giuliano Bugialli. Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. All rights reserved.