handmade farfalle with broccoli rabe
Farfalle is one of your rare pasta shapes that can be made quickly enough for a weeknight dinner. They are respectable sauce carriers, with their chunk-trapping crevices and crannies. And they are fun to eat—they can be kind of grown up, topped with suavely bitter greens and strong sheepy cheese. Or you could go the little kid route with mild tomatoes and cream or butter and cheese. Either way, they are awesome.
Farfalle by hand
Begin with a structured, resilient flour-and-egg pasta dough (three large eggs and about 10.5 ounces of bread flour or a bread flour/semolina combination should do it. Whiz with a quarter teaspoon of salt in the food processor for a full two minutes, until it is one large stretchy and bouncy lump). Let it rest, covered, for at least twenty minutes.
full how-to after the jump
Roll your dough out into a sheet about 1/8” thick, either with your pasta macchinetta’s rollers or with a floured rolling pin. Use a fluted cutter to cut squares about 1 1/2” wide, depending on how big you want your finished butterflies to be.
Use the thumb and first two fingers of your hand to pinch each square. Begin by putting your index finger down right in the middle of the square and using your thumb and middle finger to pull in the dough around it…
Keep pinching, creating a dimple where your index finger is…
And finish with a real pinch, sans index finger, to squeeze the layers together.
Put the finished pasta on a rack or a floured baking sheet as you go. Let them dry for at least twenty minutes or so before cooking them in plenty of boiling salted water.
Pasta corta with broccoli rabe
Slightly elderly, more-than-optimally bitter broccoli rabe—like you get in midsummer—goes well with equally aggressive flavors. A bit of pasta to smooth all of it out, and you have a sprightly, zingy dinner.
This dish is finished all together in the same pan used to cook the vegetables. Make sure it is large enough to hold all the pasta.
Half cook some diced pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat—don’t let it get too crisp. Add some olive oil, plenty of sliced garlic, and chili flakes to the pan; just let the garlic color.
Chop some broccoli rabe, cutting stemmy bits fairly small (1/2” or less) and leafy bits a little larger (2” or less).
Add more olive oil to your pan, turn up the heat, and put in your vegetables and a liberal pinch of salt. Let them wilt a little bit in the hot oil; add a few tablespoons of water and cover. Let things steam for five or six minutes.
Boil a short, sauce-trapping pasta until it is just shy of al dente. Drain, reserving a half cup of cooking water. Turn into the skillet and toss with the vegetables, correcting the seasoning. Add oil if it seems lean, pasta water if it seems dry.
Pile into bowls and top with some deeply toasted pine nuts and a strong Pecorino. Gobble.