Many people make New Year’s resolutions that involve food, often to cut back on it. Instead of cutting back, resolving to eat better and cook more from scratch – whether you’re slow cooking ribs or baking a cake – is a good promise to make to yourself in my book. You can also resolve to try you hand at some new techniques and Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto is a wonderful book to add to your collection if you don’t have much (or any!) experience making pasta from scratch and want to improve your culinary skill set!
The book opens with a brief introduction to the traditions that surround pasta and a much longer introduction to wheat flour. Flour is the main ingredient in all manners of traditional pastas and you’ll get better results by increasing your understanding of how wheat works and why you might want to use a variety of different flours in your pastas when making them at home. From there, you start to get in to the recipes for fresh pasta – most of which are simpler to make that you might thing. The book is divided into chapters by type of pasta, so there are chapters dedicated to various sizes and shapes of noodles, as well as baked pasta sheets, stuffed pastas, and extruded pastas, as well as chapters that feature gnocchi and risotto. You’ll probably find at least a few new styles of pasta that you haven’t seen before as you flip through the pages – and pastas that you might not have imagined were possible to make at home!
The book is filled with illustrations of pasta techniques and recipes. You’ll also find a wide variety of pasta dishes throughout the book that will show you how to put your homemade pasta to good use. These recipes can even be used with your favorite dried pastas, for those evenings when you don’t have the energy to start everything from scratch. That said, as you learn to make your own dried pastas, you just might find that you’re relying on those on a regular basis instead.