worth the effort

I have a confession to make. I’ve been keeping this utterly delicious dish from you for, oh, 2 months or so. What happened you ask? Bella Eats Pie Month, that’s what. Just as I was about to share this recipe for fresh, egg-laden pasta tossed with a homemade tomato sauce and spicy chunks of Italian sausage, I had this crazy idea to bake a different kind of pie each week for 5 weeks. And then, I needed a break. So I apologize, dear readers, for the delay, knowing full well that I’ve kept you from enjoying this warm and comforting meal as Winter starts elbowing its way into the last half of Autumn.

pappardelle merge 1

Last week we had an especially dreary few days with rain and winds sweeping through Charlottesville, dropping our temperatures into the 30’s and 40’s. It was the kind of weather that had me wearing my scarf while sitting behind my computer at the office, drinking hot tea every hour while thinking about thick stews and hearty casseroles.  This dish popped into my head several times, the memory of silky pasta laced with tomato sauce prepared and frozen at the peak of summer causing my mouth to salivate and my belly to warm.


It is the hearty, homey, comfortable meals that I crave when the air temperature transitions from brisk to downright cold.  Unlike the summer months, when we’d rather be lazily sipping vino verde on the back deck while munching on a quickly assembled salad, Brian and I spend a significant portion of Winter in our kitchen, not minding the extra heat the stovetop produces in order to simmer a pot of soup for hours or the labor required to roll out thin sheets of freshly made pasta for a pan of bubbly lasagna.  With chilled darkness falling well before we leave the office, our kitchen is a welcome source of warmth waiting for us at the end of each day, providing a space for us to pour energy into meals that will warm our bodies from the inside out.

pappardelle merge 2

pappardelle merge 3

Fresh pasta is one of those luxurious-sounding meals that seems as if it should be impossible to make at home, in the amount of time allotted for dinner preparation in busy lives.  It is, in fact, quite the opposite.  Requiring only 30 minutes of rest in the refrigerator before being passed through a pasta machine, the dough can be made in a mere 10 minutes’ time.  Your sauce can be simmering with whatever additions you’ve chosen to enhance it with as you turn the crank and catch the golden sheets of floured dough, fold them carefully and cut them into your desired shapes.  After a quick dunk in a pot full of boiling water you are ready to garnish the silky strands with whatever mixture has been simmering on your stove, filling the air with the pungent aroma of tomatoes, garlic and herbs, or perhaps the sweet smell of browned butter and sage.


I assure you that, although fresh pasta requires more time and attention than opening a box of dried linguine to dump into boiling water, it is completely, totally, undeniably worth the effort.  We’ll be making it often these next few months, so I’ll be referring back to this recipe in future posts, I’m sure. It can be used for any shape of pasta desired.

Fresh Pasta

from The Naked Chef Takes Off, by Jamie Oliver, pg. 98


  • 1-2/3 cups bread flour
  • 1-2/3 cups semolina flour (if unavailable, bread flour will do)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 egg yolks

Because this recipe is so egg-y, I recommend using eggs as high in quality as you can find.  Ours came from Double H Farm outside of Charlottesville.


  1. Place both flours on a clean work surface.  Make a well in the center of the flours and add the eggs and egg yolks.  Break up the eggs with a fork and slowly bring the flour into the well, incorporating the flour and the eggs until a dough starts to form.  [I am AWFUL at this part, and always get egg all over my counter.  Jamie says you can make the dough with an electric mixer or food processor, which I will try next time].  Knead with your hands until a smooth, silky and elastic dough forms. ** Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Remove your dough from the fridge and divide into 4 pieces, putting three of the four back in the fridge.  Flatten the smaller dough ball into a disk and dust with flour on both sides.  If you have a pasta machine (they are only about $40, I have one made by Atlas) run the dough through on the widest setting possible.  (you can also roll out by hand with a rolling pin, but I’ve never tried it.)  Fold the dough in half and run through the machine again, repeating this process several times on the widest setting to get an evenly textured sheet.  Flour each side of the dough.  Step your machine down to the next smallest setting and run the dough through.  Repeat, flouring the dough each time you step down the setting on your machine until you get the pasta to 1-2 mm thick (#6 on my machine…).
  3. Cut pasta into desired shapes.

**NOTE:  The dough will be very wet at first, when all of the flour is incorporated with the egg.  Start to knead, coating your hands with flour every minute or so to prevent the dough sticking too terribly.  if after several minutes the dough is still very wet, add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, kneading well after each addition until the dough achieves a smooth, elastic consistency.  It should take about 10 minutes of solid kneading, total.


Pappardelle with Spicy Sausage Ragù

serves 4


  • one batch of Fresh Pasta (recipe above)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from cases and cut into bite-size pieces (ours is fro Double H Farm, outside of Charlottesville)
  • 3 cups of homemade tomato sauce (recipe below) or your favorite jarred sauce
  • parmesan for shaving over top


  1. Cut your sheets of pasta to 12″ lengths.  Dust with flour on both sides and fold in half.  Cut into thirds, so that you wind up with strips of pasta about 12″ long by 1-1/2″ wide.  Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in nonstick skillet.  Add sausage and brown for 2-3 minutes.  Add onions, garlic and red bell pepper.  Saute’ for 8-10 minutes, until onions are translucent and sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add tomato sauce to pan and heat through.  While sauce heats, boil pasta until al dente, 5-6 minutes.  Drain.
  4. Serve pasta with a heap of ragù and shaved parmesan on top.


Homemade Tomato Sauce

I realize that tomatoes are out of season nearly everywhere at this time, and that most of us are left with pink, grainy globes that only resemble Summer’s favorite fruit.  This sauce can also be made with high-quality, canned, whole tomatoes.

Also, this recipe is approximate.  No tomato sauce is ever exactly the same and should always be tweaked according to your tastes.


  • 3 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, or (2) 28-ounce cans peeled, whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, basil or any combination) or 1-2 tbsp dried
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. After peeling the tomatoes, crush them with your hands into a large bowl, reserving the juices and seeds with the crushed tomatoes.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan (3 quarts) heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender and translucent.  Add the herbs and cook mixture for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.  Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30-60 minutes, until the desired thickness is achieved.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The sauce will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator, or up to 6 months in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.


15 responses to “worth the effort

  1. I love fresh pasta! Are your kitchen counters red or did you cover them??

  2. Beautiful! A friend of mine actually made a pasta dish similar to this one. He too makes his own noodles and was kind enough to give me a pasta making lesson as he put together dinner. I posted about that nights adventure on my site.
    There is truly nothing like hand made pasta…it spoiled me- buying pasta at the grocery has never been the same since.


  3. Completely gorgeous, Andrea. And I love the little glimpses of a wine glass tucked behind the pasta crank (an essential ingredient of homemade pasta that most recipes, tragically, fail to call for).

  4. Whitney – They are red! Very retro. We planned to change them immediately after we bought the house but we’ve been here for 4 years now and they’ve kind of grown on us… 🙂

    Cherie – Thank you! Hand made pasta is absolutely the best. I will check your site for your pasta-making experience!

    Kristin – You are absolutely right about the wine. I actually meant to mention that… 🙂

  5. Can’t beat freshly made!

  6. I love fresh-made pasta, it’s so good. I just have never made it myself 🙂 It seems like something that is worth the effort involved, though, as it always tastes fabulous 🙂

  7. I made pasta in my cooking class a few weeks ago and it was so delicious and fast that I bought a machine and tried tonight.

    However, my dough kept needing more and more flour and then when it finally felt as dry as it did in class I let it rest.

    When it went through the machine after a rest it was awful. I kept getting holes and it still felt wet. Any ideas for what I did wrong?

    What brand of flour do you use?

  8. Robin – I’m so sorry for your troubles! You must be so frustrated. Honestly, this recipe calls for many more eggs than I am accustomed to seeing in pasta recipes. I believe that I had to add a bit of flour to get the right moisture content as well. It sounds to me like maybe the dough wasn’t kneaded for long enough. It should take nearly 10 minutes of solid kneading to get the dough to the correct consistency (a note I am adding to the instructions for the recipe). It will be pretty wet at first, but if you continue to lightly coat your hands with flour as you work the dough it should start to stiffen up. If after a few minutes of kneading it is still very wet, I’d add flour by 1/4 cup at a time, kneading well after each addition until you get the smooth, elastic ball of dough that can then rest.

    I use King Arthur Flours for everything but Semolina, which I buy in bulk at Whole Foods.

    Please try again, and let me know how it goes! I think I may try out some additional pasta recipes as well, with dough that is easier to work. But I assure you, the extra eggs in this recipe make the pasta so silky and full of flavor…yum!

  9. I love your style of writing and your lovely photos. I also enjoy making and eating homemade pasta. I think I will try to make this type of pasta because it seems to be quicker than shaping spaghetti. I make my pasta while the sauce simmers, too. 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos! I was pleasantly surprised as how easy it is to make homemade pasta! I might ask for a pasta roller one of these days…

  11. I just love the finish of homemade pasta. There’s nothing quite like it!

  12. Perfect timing! I literally just sent out a message to my ladies for a pasta & wine ladies night. Thanks for the pasta machine recommendation as well. You’ve tempted me to give fresh pasta a go.

  13. Gorgeous photos, as always. I especially love the shot of the pasta being held up in the light.

  14. I would want nothing more on a cold fall evening than this. Gorgeous, Andrea! And I love the line about warming bellies.

  15. amazing and beautiful post! it’s so hard to go back to boxes after being spoiled with fresh pasta.

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