Last week I overheard my sister being lectured on how she was “too young” and hence didn’t understand how her job worked. My sister is 30. Not 27. Not 28. Thirty. She’s done her job enough times to make a life of it for now yet the person signing the cheque resorted to condescension. Was she supposed to act 40? I don’t understand. I’ll spare all the reasons why my sister was talked to in that manner because I don’t want her to lose her livelihood.
The situation made me think of the “You’re too young” card. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I’ve played it myself when interacting with my 7-year-old BFF. I cringed soon after. I said it in such a way as to get her to understand my perspective and consequently shut her up. I didn’t mean it that way but that’s exactly what came out. That’s not what I wanted to say to her at all. How is a seven-year-old supposed to know she’s too young? Seven-year-olds can only do things like seven-year-olds – by the way, all of which are amazing! I certainly have no clue how to be like her.
Everything we have to know at our age and time is already in our psyche right now. You are exactly the age you are supposed. You are not too young. You will never feel any different until you find opportunities to do better. We are here RIGHT NOW and we do our best. Don’t rush getting older. Don’t make the kids and people in your life feel like they have to do it either. For all the times we wish we knew how to be better adults, know that there’s no better way to learn than as children do.
And for next time, the correct response to “You’re too young” is “thank you”.
Passata, tomato sauce and pasta
This passata isn’t made as they do in Italy simply because I don’t own a food mill. We made it in a blender with fresh tomatoes and turned it into a sauce for pasta. It’s a much-anticipated end-of-summer family ritual in Italy and other parts of the world with Italian migrants. If you’re in a summery/wintery part of the world like India, it’s tomato season so go find the ripest, plumpest, vine-ripened tomatoes and buy them all!
For the passata
- 1 kg/2.2 lb tomatoes
Score the tomato on the bottom. Scoring means cutting the tomato skin with a shallow “X”. Put a pot of water to boil and blanch the tomatoes till the skin loosens (about 30-40 seconds). Drain the water and peel the skins off the tomatoes once they cool. Place the tomatoes into a blender and work them into a thick paste, making sure no chunks are left behind.
If you’re going to bottle your passata, please follow safe preserving techniques. Here is one method I found online.
For the sauce
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2/3 cup red onions, finely diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato puree (optional)
- Passata from the recipe above
- A bunch of fresh basil
- Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil on a medium flame in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions are garlic to it and stir for about a minute, without allowing them to brown. All the tomato puree (if using) to the pot and stir for 30 seconds. Add the passata to the pot and give it a big stir. Bring the sauce to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Cover the pot partially allowing the sauce to simmer until it has reduced and reached a thick consistency. This took about 30 minutes. Take the pot of the heat and add a handful of torn fresh basil to the sauce. Season with salt.
For the pasta dough
This recipe uses a KitchenAid pasta maker attachment. You could also make this pasta by hand by rolling the dough as thin as you can. We Indians have good practice courtesy chapatis.
Recipe by Gayle D’Souza
- 150 gms durum wheat flour (atta)
- 150 gms all-purpose flour (maida) + more for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 175 gms eggs (approximately 3 1/2 eggs)
Mix together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl or on your kitchen countertop.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and crack the eggs into it. Using your fingertips or a fork, break the egg yolks. Gradually add a little bit of flour from the edges of the well into the eggs. A soft dough will start to come together as you do this. If the dough is too slurry, add a little more flour.
Dust another part of the kitchen counter with flour and put the dough onto it. Fold the dough over itself and press it down to flatten using gentle motions. Keep doing this until you notice the dough firming up. Once the dough is firm enough, dust the counter with more flour as needed (especially if the dough is still sticky) and knead it until it forms a smooth, pliable ball (as it is in the picture above). It should be firm but soft.
Place the dough in a bowl covered with a plate or plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight.
Remove the pasta dough from the fridge and divide it into four equal portions. Let it come to room temperature. Work with one portion at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp tea towel while you are doing so.
Flour a working surface and roll out the portion of dough to flatten it a bit with the heel of your hand or a rolling pin. Set your pasta maker to the thickest setting (1) and put the dough through it. Once it comes through, fold it in half across the length. Feed it through the machine again and each time, fold the dough the same way until it forms into a smooth, well-kneaded sheet.
Move to the consecutive settings (starting from 2 and going up to 7 or 8) to make the pasta thinner and thinner as you go. Feed it at least once or twice through each setting. If the sheet gets too long to manage, cut it in half. Roll out all your pasta dough and using a pizza cutter or knife cut into neat 12-inch rectangles. Lightly dust each sheet with flour as you go so it doesn’t stick. If making ravioli, you can work with the sheet directly after it’s rolled out to the appropriate thinness. We went up to 8 for ravioli and 7 for linguine.
Prepare a large baking sheet by dusting it with semolina or all-purpose flour. Once the dough is all rolled out, cut the noodles using the noodle-cutting attachment (or you can also cut this by hand). Place the noodles in the baking sheet and coat them with flour so they don’t stick. Form them into little noodle nests and leave them on the baking sheet. Cover with a towel while you work with the rest of the dough.
For the ravioli filling
I used a filling recipe very similar to this one. You can also substitute the spinach with kale if you like.
- Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and pepper
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 3 or 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander. Serve with hot passata and fresh basil on top. Grate liberal amounts of parmesan cheese on the pasta along with fresh pepper.