Panda (handmade pasta shape)
Prep Time: 30 minutes + resting time
Cook Time: 5 minutes (variable, see recipe)
Keywords: boil pasta nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegetarian semolina flour Italian
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 100 g / 3.5 ounces semolina flour of good quality
- 50 g / 1.75 ounces warm water
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons bean and roasted squash spread (recipe in an upcoming post)
- 30 g / 1 ounce Crescenza cheese cut into small pieces
Note: I recommend weighing both flour and water.How to make the dough and shape panda
Make a dough with the ingredients and knead until nice and smooth. [You can watch my hands at work in this short video.] Let it rest, well covered (e.g., wrapped in plastic film), for half an hour or so.
Working on the kneading board, roll the dough into a thick salami and cut it into 5-6 pieces. Keep them covered while you shape the panda. Roll each piece into a thin snake (3/8 inch / 1 cm thick), then cut into 3/8 inch / 1 cm long pieces. (Depending on the size of your hands, you may need to increase the dimensions a bit so your fingers can work comfortably.)
Keep some all-purpose flour in a dish on your working surface, so you can rub your thumb and index finger in it when the dough sticks to them. With your thumb, draw a piece of dough away from you, flattening it. With the help of your index finger, release the dough so it remains on your working surface. With your index finger, draw the piece of dough towards you with a gentle curling action. The result is a concave triangle that reminds me of a sitting panda.
Do not press hard or the dough will become too thin. With practice, you will find what is the right amount of pressure to apply to the dough. Lay the panda out on a lightly floured section of the kneading board (or a baking sheet lined with a cotton kitchen towel or, in my case, a linen placemat). Handle the shaped pasta gently so as not to without misshape it. [You can watch my hands at work in this short video.]
Repeat until you have used up the prepared dough.
Cook the panda and dress as you like. The following is just a suggestion.How to cook and dress the panda
Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil, add some coarse salt, stir and then toss the panda in it. The time needed to cook them is a bit variable, depending on the size and dryness of the pasta.
Place the bean spread in a small skillet, add a small amount of the water in which the pasta is cooking and stir to make a soft cream. Add the cheese and stir to distribute.
When the pasta is almost ready, place the skillet over low heat to melt the cheese.
Taste and stop the cooking when the panda are ready. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot, stir and drain the panda. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot and stir. Drain the panda leaving a little bit of the cooking water clinging to the pasta and drop into the skillet with the sauce. Stir well over medium-low heat for about half a minute. Plate and serve immediately.