For every day pasta dough [Tagliatelle]
4 cups flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
For cooking pasta
A big pot of water
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cups dried white cannelloni beans or white pea beans (or 2 cans of cooked beans, 19 oz each)
1/4 cup water in which beans were soaked in
salt to taste
about 6 cups home-made Italian-style tomato sauce
For Everyday Pasta Dough:
Step 1. To make home-made pasta the old-fashioned way you put the 4 cups or so of flour on a floured wooden board, gather it all up into a mound, make a well or hole in the center, then add water a little at a time, slowly mixing the water and flour.
Step 2. Form the mixture into a thick ball of dough. Continue mixing until the ball of dough cannot absorb any more water (if the dough is too dry add more water, if it's too wet, add more flour).
Step 3. Knead the enough on the well-floured wooden board for about ten minutes.
For those who have a Kitchen Aid or any other type of electric kneader, the process is ridiculously simple and no explanation is required.
Step 4. When you have a pasta dough that is smooth and malleable, form a ball, flour it, and then place it in a container. Using clear plastic wrap cover the container. Place a kitchen towel over the container (to keep the dough warm).
Step 5. Let the dough rest for four or five hours at room temperature.
Step 6. Take a piece of "rested" dough (about 2" x 2"), flatten it with your hands, and then pass it through the pasta maker at the widest setting. If it doesn't come out nice and smooth, flour the pasta sheet and pass it through the pasta machine again (The process of passing the dough through the pasta machine, besides flattening it out, also "kneads" it).
Step 7. Adjust the pasta machine to a smaller setting, and pass the pasta sheet through the roller once again, until you get the desired thickness -- about 1/8 of an inch. The second to last setting should be about right on a pasta maker.
Step 8. Adjust the pasta maker and pass the sheets of dough through the tagliatelle-style form so that one has strips of dough that are about 1/2 inch wide.
Step 9. Cut the 1/2 inch wide strips of dough 3 inches long so that one gets pasta that resembles egg noodles but as it uses no eggs it is called tagliatelle -- 3" x 1/2". Please note that in Italy the size of the tagliatelle may differ from region to region, town to town.
Step 10. Let the pasta dry a little while you prepare the sauce or alternatively freeze the cut pasta, and then use it when needed.
To prepare the beans
Step 1. Place dried white beans in water and soak overnight.
Step 2. Cook soaked beans for about half an hour to an hour (the amount of time depends on the size of the beans).
Step 3. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid.
Obviously, if one is using canned beans, steps 1 and 2, are not followed.
To make the sauce:
1. Fry sliced onions in olive oil.
2. Add home-made tomato sauce to the onions.
3. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Add beans and 1/4 cup of water drained from the beans to the tomato sauce.
5. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
To prepare the pasta:
1. Bring water in a large pot to boil.
2. Add the home-made pasta to the water. Cook until the pasta is tender (about 4 minutes).
4. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Add about a cup of sauce. Toss.
5. Place the tossed pasta in individual dishes. Add more sauce to each dish.
6. Serve warm.
My maternal grandmother used tomato paste to make her tomato sauce, and that's how she served "paste and fagioli" when my mother was a little girl. However, nowadays, as fresh tomatoes are available year round (They weren't in pre World War II Italy), most cooks prefer to make their tomato sauce from scratch. Obviously, those who like basil or parsley on their pasta can add either one of the herbs to this dish.... For notes on "pasta e fagioli" see Version I. Photo: Mary Melfi.