By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Entrepreneur and chef Linda Croley originally rolled out Bare Naked Noodles as a ready-made pasta meals and sauces business. Her products are made of local and Italian ingredients and are sold at many farmers markets and local grocery and food specialty stores and are served in some of Birmingham’s best restaurants. In 2015, Croley expanded the business by opening a café in Hoover, where she serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays. I stop by the café for lunch often. I especially enjoy the quiches and daily lunch specials, made of in-season ingredients. I also pick up fresh pasta along with a jar of tomato basil sauce for dinner, which is on the table in five minutes. And I grab a few frozen dinners that I can pop in the oven anytime. For many of us who are too busy to cook from-scratch meals using local ingredients, her business fulfills an important need. But if you want to try your hand at making pasta at home, Croley shares her egg pasta recipe.
2 pasture-raised farm eggs
Caputo semolina Italian flour, enough for dusting pan
2 cups Caputo 00 Italian flour (Note: “00” refers to the texture of the flour. Italian flours are numbered by how finely the flour is ground. The finest is 00.)
Place the flour on a large floured surface. Make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well. Beat the mixture in the well with a fork. Using a fork, gently start to work the flour into the liquid. Continue until the dough becomes sticky and difficult to work with the fork. Use your hands to form the rough dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with a bowl or towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Proceed with rolling and cutting the pasta. For pappardelle, roll pasta with rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick and is in a 12 x 12 square. With a knife or pasta wheel, cut long strips of dough one inch in width. For fettuccine, cut into ½ inch strips; for linguine, cut into ¼ inch strips; and for angel hair, cut in 1/8 inch strips. Once all pasta is cut, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and semolina flour, just enough to prevent pasta from sticking. Bring a five-quart pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of salt. Add pasta to the boiling water. Stir once. Pasta will cook in two to three minutes. Strain pasta, reserving a cup of broth for possible sauce. Serve immediately with your favorite sauce or top with an extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. Yield: One half pound, two servings.