I made a field trip to Brooklyn to visit the workshop of artisan pasta maker Sfoglini. Owners Steve Gonzalez and his friend Scott Ketchum wanted to launch a business together a few years back, but after their initial plan to open an Italian restaurant was pushed to the wayside, they decided to focus on making pasta. Not just any pasta, but organic, bronze-die-extruded pasta made in small batches. That’s my favorite kind!
Steve is a chef with experience cooking all over Italy, and in New York City too (most recently he headed the pasta program at Frankie’s Spuntino‘s restaurants); Scott has expertise in product design and branding – a great match.
The other day, they were kind enough to let me poke around their kitchen, where I watched Steve make a batch of rye reginetti, from start to finish.
Steve started with organic rye flour sourced from a miller in New York State; he sifted it by hand to remove any rough bits or pieces of grain berries – they can get stuck in the pasta machine later and cause a headache.
Then, he mixed the rye flour with a bit of semolina flour and some water. That’s it. Steve says adding salt to the dough would cause the pasta to crack as it dries. It’s best to very generously salt the pasta cooking water, as you would with any dried pasta.
Next, the mix was added to the pasta machine; Steve wrenched off the bronze die from a previous batch and attached the one for reginetti; a ruffly-edged shape, kind of like a short, slender lasagna noodle.
In a few minutes, the machine began to extrude the pasta and the room started to smell really good, like toasted nuts and fresh flour. In less than 30 minutes, about 20 pounds of pasta was spread on sheet pans, then set on speed racks to cool. Later the pasta would finish drying in a temperature-controlled walk-in.
Steve described the flavor and texture of his rye reginetti as “springy, with a fresh grain taste”, which made me think that fresh, green springlike vegetables would be a perfect accompaniment. Steve suggested pairing the pasta with garlic scape pesto – yum. I made a pit stop at the Greenmarket in Union Square on my way to the subway, where I found some fresh peas and pea shoots but no garlic scapes.
When I got home, I made a simple sauce for the pasta, peas and pea greens with some shallot, Vermont cultured butter, and a little creme fraîche. The reginetti keep their rustic, full flavor after cooking, while the texture stayed tender and fresh.
- 8 ounces reginetti pasta (or shells, fusilli, orecchiette, etc)
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 pound fresh pea shoots, chopped
- 3/4 pound fresh shelling peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
- Freshly grated Parmigiano of Grana cheese
- Bring 4 quarts water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt to a boil.
- While the water boils, put the butter in a saute pan over medium heat with a pinch of salt. Add the shallot and cook gently until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the greens and cook just until they turn bright green and wilt.
- Cook the pasta until just about al dente. Drop in the peas during the last few minutes of cooking. Drain. Add to the saute pan along with the creme fraiche, stirring over low heat until the sauce coats the pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.