Berkeley chef Samin Nosrat shows us the joy of making fresh pasta
Samin Nosrat is as much a born teacher as a chef. “I’ve always loved to eat, but I love people more than I love food,” says
Nosrat, who got her start at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and puts on pop-up dinners at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. She also
teaches cooking throughout the Bay Area. One of her students, writer Michael Pollan, made her a star of his new book, Cooked.
“Everything I know about cooking, I learned from Samin,” he recently said, only half-joking.
Nosrat—who inherited her love of food from her Persian family—has a gift for explaining basic skills in a clear, encouraging way. “My goal is to give students tools so they can feel free in the kitchen,” she says. Her current obsession is homemade orecchiette, as it “has an amazing chewiness and texture that you just don’t get from dried.” When Nosrat saw women in Italy spinning dough into thimbles, she thought: “I’ll never be able to do that. It has to be in your blood.” But, with her radiant confidence, she figured it out—and passed her secrets on to us.
When you’re cooking with only a few ingredients, their quality makes a huge difference. Nosrat gave us her choices for the
recipes that follow.
With origins in Puglia, Italy, orecchiette (“little ears”) are one of the simplest pastas to make at home. True, they’re time-consuming
but, Nosrat says, “making them is a chance to connect to a culture and a place. Even if they didn’t have incredible texture,
they’d be worth it.”
Recipe: Homemade Orecchiette
When you're mixing the dough in your stand mixer, you'll know it's ready when it “starts to climb up the sides of the bowl,”
See her mix and shape pasta step-by-step in this handy video.
“Clam pasta is a great way to extract all the flavor and texture of clams,” says Nosrat. “Their juices mingle with the butter
and wine and cook into the pasta, and the clams themselves are tender-chewy. It’s like having the ocean in a bowl.” Serve
with lots of crusty bread for sopping up juices.
Recipe: Orecchiette with Clams, Chiles, and Parsley
“Remove clams as they open, so they don’t get tough,” Nosrat advises.
Nosrat cooks down half the tomatoes into a savory jam, then adds fresh ones at the end. “I like to layer flavors, to have
two levels of deliciousness.” If you can’t find ricotta salata, fresh ricotta works well too—just drain it and stir in some
Recipe: Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes, Marjoram, and Ricotta Salata