Saffron tagliatelle with tomato, fennel, saffron sauce and pan fried shrimp

Making pasta at home is still new to me, and something I am learning. But this one turned out all right :). 


serves: 8        difficulty: complex      prep time: 2 hrs


Ingredients

for the pasta

  • 1 lbs pasta flour – mix 50/50 all purpose flour and semolina flour, or 50/50 Italian “00” flour and semolina flour
  • more semolina flour for dusting
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 generous pinches Spanish saffron

for the sauce

  • 1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 generous pinch of Spanish saffron
  • 1 8 oz can chopped (but not seasoned) tomatoes
  • 16 shrimps, shelled and deveined
  • 1 tbs canola or vegetable oil

Preparation

First make the pasta dough. Mince the saffron and steep it in 1 tbs warm water.

 

 

Lightly beat the eggs, and add the olive oil and steeped saffron to them.

 

 

Next, you need to mix the flour and the egg mixture to form the dough. There are two ways to that: 1) the traditional, manual way – by forming a “well” of flour and pouring the egg mixture in the middle (which was demonstrated in the agnolotti post) and 2) the easy, modern way – by using a food processor. The former gives you a lot more control how much flour the eggs can absorb and respectively how moist or dry the pasta dough becomes. With the latter – you don’t have that control. Note that if the dough is too moist you can always fix it by adding flour. But if it is too dry (which is a risk if you use the food processor) – you can’t introduce moisture and you have to star all over again.

In this case I used the food processor.

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And the resulting dough looked like this before being kneaded.

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Your dough will always look this rough before kneading. Start kneading the dough by folding in two, turning 90 degrees, applying pressure with the palm of your hand down and away from you; folding in two, turning 90 degrees, applying pressure…. Keep kneading for at least 10 min or up until the dough become silky smooth. Because we are using semolina flour which is coarser, it will take more kneading to get there. In this case, I kneaded the dough for 25 min. Once it is smooth, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 min or better – a full hour.

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While the dough is resting you can prepare the sauce. Chop the fennel bulb and mince the garlic.

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Heat a sauté pan, and add the olive oil. Once it shimmers, add the minced garlic and chopped fennel and sauté until lightly caramelized.

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Open the can of tomatoes, and use a hand blender to puree the tomatoes. Add them to the fennel, and add the pinch of saffron.  Continue sautéing for about 5 min – or until the sauce thickens.   Remove form the heat.

Once the dough has rested, you can roll out and cut the pasta. First split the dough in 3 parts; work with 1/3 and keep the remaining 2/3 wrapped in plastic wrap.

I use a very simple Italian pasta maker with a detachable electric motor.

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Flatten the dough between your hands so that it starts forming a pancake – about 1/2 inch thick. Adjust the pasta machine rollers on the widest gauge (on mine that’s 0), and turn on the pasta machine (if electric). Run the dough pancake through it 2-3 times. At that point you will have an elliptical sheet of dough. Fold the narrow ends of the ellipse so that the width of the pasta sheet is only slightly less than the width of the pasta machine. Run the sheet through the machine couple more times. The goal is for the pasta sheet to be as wide as the width of the machine. Once you have achieved that, start tightening the gauge of the rollers (on my machine the numbers go up) and run the sheet through the past machine couple of times at each gauge. You may have to dust the pasta sheet lightly with flour. I go all the way to gauge 5 for tagliatelle. Dust lightly with flour, then cut the sheet in 1 ft long pieces. You should have something like this.

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It’s all right if the ends of the sheet aren’t perfect 🙂

Attach the cutting attachment to the machine, and move the motor to the tagliatelle setting. Run each pasta sheet through the cutter, and voila! you have tagliatelle.

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Dust the ready tagliatelle lightly with flower, and put on a lightly dusted sheet tray. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 of dough.

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When the tagliatelle is ready, cover the sheet tray with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to two days. Or you can freeze it for months.

When you are ready to serve, fill a large stock pot with water, add plenty of salt (it should taste like sea water), and bring it to aggressive boil. While you are awaiting for the eater to boil, cook the shrimp. Pat try the shrimp, and season with salt and black pepper. Heat a fry pan, add the canola or vegetable oil, and when the oil shimmers add the shrimp.

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Sauté on one side until they turn light pink – about 2 min, then turn and sauté on the other side for about 1 – 1 1/2 min. Remove from the pan.

Warm the sauce. When the water boils, add the tagliatelle and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 min. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Remove from the heat, drain the pasta but reserve 1/3 cup of the water. Add the lightly to the sauce, and add the reserved pasta water. Stir well and cook for a min. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Place the pasta in pasta bowls, and top with two shrimps and some fennel fonds.

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