Q: Why put a bit of oil into pasta dough? Is it taste or to keep the fresh pasta from sticking? My grandmother did not add oil or water.
I would (also) like to find out how long to leave fresh pasta on the counter before cooking, maybe in plastic wrap if necessary. Also, freezer information.
—Pat Plautz, Deer Park, Ill.
A: Your questions were sparked by a recent Tribune Newspapers article by Domenica Marchetti on making homemade pasta using a food processor. Her recipe for fresh egg noodles called for 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in the dough.
I forwarded your questions in an email to the Alexandria, Va.-based Marchetti, author of, among other books, two works published in 2011: "Williams Sonoma Rustic Italian: Simple, Authentic Recipes for Everyday Cooking" (Weldon Owen, $29.95), and "The Glorious Pasta of Italy" (Chronicle, $30).
Why the olive oil? "Adding a splash of oil to the pasta dough is something my mom did, so I have always done it. I think it makes the dough a little more supple and adds a bit of flavor," she replied.
How long should one let the pasta dry? "This depends on the cut of pasta," Marchetti said. "For a noodle like spaghetti or fettuccine, you can leave it out all day and just let it dry."
But drying can be unreliable and lead to broken or cracked pasta. Marchetti prefers freezing fresh pasta once it is shaped
"Yes, you can freeze fresh pasta,'' she wrote. "It freezes beautifully and will last up to a month in the freezer."
Marchetti takes the pasta from the freezer and puts it in a pot of boiling water when she's ready to cook it.
"I have heard that some people freeze the pasta dough itself but I have never done this," she added. "I figure it's best to stretch and cut the dough before freezing. Then all the hard work is done."
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