She’s Lisa. She’s the most ‘Italian mama’ we know, and she’s not even Italian. But more importantly she makes the best food. We are asking her for ages (begging even!) to start writing a cook book. This is the next best thing.
We have another window in the wall! Please welcome Lisa as our food (and weight) contributor.
“LIFE IS A COMBINATION OF MAGIC AND PASTA.”
From the smile it puts on your face with that first bite, to the happy coma it induces while you sit there slouched over yourself wondering how you were even able to eat it all.
Hi I’m Lisa and I love pasta. I should also mention that I’m trying to break my habit of emotional eating, but it’s not going so well. The kitchen is just so near and the days can be so darn long sometimes! So here I am, coming to you live from my little cucina where I will share all of Stefano’s nonna’s not-so-secret recipes and a few special ones of my own.
Thought I’d start out light (as in level of difficulty not amounts of carbs, dairy, meat, fat, etc.). This is my go to dish when I want something homemade but quick and easy. The boys love it. We love it. Win – win.
And here we go.
SPATZLE WITH SPECK IN A CREAM SAUCE
Spatzle maker – super cheap, I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but they also have it on amazon. Before I bought it I was using a regular old colander and a wooden spoon. You’re basically pouring the mixture in and it falls through the holes into your pot of boiling water to make little raindrop looking pasta. It sounds complex, but it’s extremely simple and fun!
For the Pasta:
250g of flour ( I’ve used 00, all purpose, whole wheat. 00 yields a lighter, fluffier pasta, whereby all purpose and whole wheat is obviously more dense.)
150ml of water (room temperature)
Nutmeg – a dash or more depending on your taste – I like more!
Salt – just a pinch.
For the Sauce:
Heavy Cream – if you find panna get that, otherwise there is Carnation Thick Cream (usually found in the baking aisle at our supermarket) or just plain ol’ box table cream is equally good.
30g of butter
200g Speck – It’s kind of like a smoked prosciutto. There are different quality ones, the highest quality is always the best flavour… trust me I’ve tried to cheap out on this, you don’t want to go there!
Green onions – some like a lot, some like a little. It’s entirely up to you.
Salt and Pepper – to your taste.
It’s not pictured here, but sometimes I add crushed walnuts and it’s to die for… you know, if you’re into nuts, which I am. Ps. Don’t google “into nuts,” weird things come up.
Let’s start cooking:
Throw all the dry ingredients into your mixer (or bowl if you’re not using a mixer). Start mixing while pouring your eggs in. Keep mixing and slowly add water – the mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter. I usually add the water a little at a time until i get a good texture… so the 150ml is actually the maximum amount of water you should add. If by mistake it seems too watery, just throw in some more flour – we won’t tell anyone! Boom – pasta mixture done. Cover and put it aside – the fridge is fine.
Put a pot of water to boil. And start on your sauce.
Chop up your green onions, slice your speck (the smaller the better). Put your large pan on medium heat and melt your butter! Add the speck and saute, it will get darker but you don’t want it too crispy like bacon or anything. Now you add the green onions and about a minute later you pour in the cream and turn down the heat to low — you just want it soaking and slightly sizzling at this point, otherwise it’ll dry up before the pasta is ready. Go ahead, dash some more nutmeg in there if you want. I only add a pinch of salt because the speck is quite salty on its own. You never really know how salty it is without tasting – so go for it. You own this dish!
Ok, your water should be boiling by now – throw some salt in and let’s make our pasta!
Place your spaztle maker on top of the pot and pour your mixture into the square top with a soup ladle. Move the square part back and forth and watch the pasta drop into the boiling water (the first time I used mine I actually looked up a how-to video on YouTube!). Keep doing this until you have no more mixture. Remove the spatzle maker and stir the pasta – It should be ready in less than 5 minutes. It’s a light, soft, fluffy pasta so it looks uncooked and fresh even when it’s cooked – kind of like a little brother to gnocchi: If it’s solid, it’s good.
If you are using a colander you basically do the same thing but use the wooden spoon to push the mixture through the colander holes.
So the pasta should be ready. I use a large strainer type spoon thingy (see in photo) that I picked up at Bed, Bath and Beyond as well – but I’ve seen them everywhere. Scoop pasta up and put it into the pan with the sauce, keep going until it’s all transferred. If you find the cream solidified a bit, just put a few tablespoons of the boiled pasta water into it and mix it up. And voila, there you have it – Spaztle with speck in a cream sauce. Eat it, enjoy it. Add a glass of wine ;).
Until we meet again.
Hasta la pasta,
Nonna is an 85 year old lady living in the northern part of Italy (Reggio Emilia) where she enjoys playing soccer, riding her bike with friends, going to the market and making pasta, especially for groups of 25 people or more.