12 Sep 2009 01:27 pm
1 small eggplant
2-3 cloves garlic
1-1/2 cups semolina flour
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
all-purpose flour for kneading
8-12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1-1/2 tbl olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
Heat oven to 400°. Lightly oil the bottom of a small baking dish. Wash and dry the eggplant. With a small knife, cut several ¾” slits all around the eggplant. Cut 6 or 7 very thin slices from one of the garlic cloves, and insert them into some of the slits in the eggplant. Leave the remaining garlic cloves unpeeled. Place the eggplant and remaining garlic cloves into the baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until the eggplant collapses and the garlic cloves are very soft, approximately 30 – 40 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant (the garlic cloves may finish cooking sooner – if so remove them to a plate & allow them to cool).
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh and garlic slivers into a bowl. Stir / mash with a fork until smooth. Break the eggs into another bowl, and add ¼ cup of the eggplant, mixing will. Reserve remaining eggplant for another use.
Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar & pestle or in a pepper grinder on its coarsest setting. Pour the flour onto a work surface and with your hands or a bench knife or spatula mix the pepper into it until evenly distributed. Push the flour together into a mound, and create a well in the center.Carefully pour the egg / eggplant mixture into the well, scooping up the sides of the mound as needed to hold as much of the mixture as possible.
With a fork, slowly stir the flour, a little at a time, into the egg mixture. As the egg mixture begins to form a semi-solid mass and is no longer runny, being kneading in the remaining flour. If the dough seems like it won’t incorporate all the flour, push the remaining flour aside with your bench knife. Conversely, if the dough is still sticky after all the flour is incorporated, add more flour.
Dust your hands with all-purpose flour, and knead the dough firmly for approximately 8 minutes, or until it’s stiff and elastic and a finger poked into its center comes out clean. Incorporate small amounts all purpose flour as needed while kneading if dough becomes sticky.
Divide the dough into four parts. Roll them out with a pasta machine or rolling pin. If using a pasta machine, roll out the pasta sheets first at the widest setting, then incrementally at narrower settings until you reach the desired thickness (for my pasta machine, the best thickness is setting #4 out of 7). If rolling by hand, roll until the sheets are very thin – 1/16th of an inch or less. Pass sheets through the cutting wheels of the pasta machine, or allow sheets to dry slightly, then very loosely roll them up and cut into thin strips. Separate the noodles and lay them on clean, dry kitchen towels until they’re dry enough that they no longer stick together, then curl them into 5 or 6 nests.
Remove the skin and stem end from the roasted garlic cloves, and in a small bowl or ramekin, mash together with ¼ tsp salt. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add garlic paste and stir 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat until they begin to break down, approx 4 – 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened, approx 4 – 5 minutes more. Add more salt as desired.
Bring approx 6 cups of water to a full boil in a 2 -3 quart saucepan. Drop in 2 of the pasta nests (allow remaining nests to dry thoroughly for 24 hours, then store in a cool dry place). Cook until pasta is al dente — 2 – 4 minutes for fresh, 5 – 7 minutes or longer for dried. Drain pasta and toss with tomato-garlic sauce. Top with freshly-grated parmesan cheese.