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Too pretty to eat? Ribbon pasta is simple to make, but it does take time and patience.

Too pretty to eat? As pretty as ribbon candy, colorful ribbon pasta is simple to make--once you understand the technique.

This artfully structured pasta comes from Patrizio Sacchetto of the Blue Fox restaurant in San Francisco. Under his tutelage, we found it fun to create--and a great homemade holiday gift.

Before you start, consider these questions:

Do I need special tools? You'll need a pasta machine to roll the stiff doughs to uniform thickness. A food processor is invaluable; a blender is handy, too.

Is multicolored pasta hard to make? No, but it takes time--and patience, too. The basic process is simple. Making vegetable purees (for color) and doughs takes the most time, but doughs can be made ahead; they also freeze well.

Do I need special ingredients? You need semolina flour. Widely available in well-stocked supermarkets and fancy food stores, this specially milled wheat flour comes in a range of textures. The kind you need for our recipes can range from coarser than all-purpose flour through gritty like fine cornmeal. These all work well. Semolina doughs are stiff to work with but have a springier texture when cooked than do plain wheat-flour pastas. You can use semolina flour liberally to keep doughs from sticking without adding the gumminess that regular wheat flour gives.

What does ribbon pasta taste like? The purees add color but little taste. A few hot ribbons make an elegant serving. See page 186 for suggestions.

What are the steps? First make the dough, then knead until supple. Divide doughs into easy-to-use portions. Cut 1 portion of each color and plain pasta into fettuccine-width strands. Roll a wide strip of uncolored pasta to form the base (plain pasta shows off the colored stripes best). Use water to "glue" the strands onto the wide, plain strip. Roll this striped sheet through the pasta machine to make it evenly thick and squeeze the layers firmly together. Then cut into ribbons. Repeat, using remaining dough.

Ribbon Pasta

1 recipe plain pasta dough for stripes and base (recipe follows) 1 recipe green pasta dough for stripes (recipe on page 186) 1 recipe magenta pasta dough for stripes (recipe on page 186) 1 recipe orange pasta dough for stripes (recipe on page 186) About 4 cups (1-1/2 lb.) semolina flour for rolling out pasta

Kneading the dough. Using 1 batch of dough at a time (plain, green, magenta, orange), flatten to about 3/8 inch thick, dust liberally with flour, and feed through pasta machine rollers at widest setting 10 to 12 times; fold dough in half lengthwise each time, and flour. When ready to use, dough will feel as smooth and supple as well-cured leather. Fold up finished strips and wrap airtight in plastic wrap or bags. Repeat to knead all batches of dough (total: 5 plain, 1 each of colored).

To make stripes. Cut 1 folded batch plain dough and each batch of colored dough into quarters. As you work, use 1 quarter at a time and keep remaining dough wrapped.

Flatten 1 quarter plain dough to about 3/8 inch thick and dust liberally with flour. Feed dough through rollers, at widest setting, several times; fold in half each time, repeating until dough is width of roller. Narrow roller spacing 1 notch and feed dough through again; repeat until you reach next-to-narrowest setting.

To create fettuccine-width strands, feed dough through the cutter setting closest to 1/4 inch. As strands emerge, swish entire length in a generous amount of flour to prevent sticking; lay strands out straight or loosely swirl. Keep them in an airtight container or bag. Repeat with the remaining quarters of green, magenta, and orange dough.

To make base strip. Cut each of remaining 4 batches of plain dough into thirds (12 portions); set aside for bases, keeping in airtight containers or bags. Flatten 1 portion about 3/8 inch thick and dust liberally with flour. Feed dough several times through rollers at widest setting; fold in half each time, repeating until dough strip is the width of the rollers. Progressively reduce roller spacing to next-to-narrowest setting, roll strip through, taking care to keep sides straight. Lay strip flat on a well-floured board. Trim ends to make a neat rectangle about 6 by 20 inches. Cover strip with plastic wrap. Store scraps in an airtight container or bag.

To glue stripes to base. Uncover base strip and brush water down a long side. Lay a strand of colored pasta on base piece, aligning neatly against edge. Repeat, alternating remaining colors and the plain pasta strands on base. If a strand is too short, gently stretch or butt another same-color strand up to it. Return all scraps, as accumulated, to airtight containers or bags, segregating them by color.

When base is covered with stripes, coat liberally with flour on all sides. Lift gently and feed through rollers at widest setting or roll lightly with a rolling pin. Feed strip through rollers at next-to-narrowest setting (pasta will lengthen). Trim ends straight. Cut crosswise into 8-inch pieces. Cut resulting rectangles lengthwise into 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbons. Separate ribbons.

Storing. To store pasta fresh, generously flour pieces and wrap airtight in bunches of 1 to 2 dozen ribbons; chill up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month (thaw to cook). Or dry pasta: lay ribbons flat in a single layer, colored side up, on wire racks or on a towel-lined flat surface. Let stand until pasta feels dry to touch and is rigid, 12 to 18 hours. Package airtight, 1 to 2 dozen pieces in a plastic bag. Handle gently. Store in a cool, dark place up to 2 months.

Make ribbons from remaining dough. (If you need to stop during this process, store remaining dough airtight in the refrigerator up to 2 days.) Reroll scraps and either make another multicolor sheet or cut into fettuccine strands.

Use ribbons as suggested, preceding or on page 186; save colorful scraps to add to clear broth. Makes about 240 pasta ribbons, each about 1-1/2 by 8 inches, 7 to 7-1/2 pounds when dry.

Per ounce: 128 cal.; 4.7 g protein; 1.7 g fat; 23 g carbo.; 15 mg sodium; 34 mg chol.

Plain Pasta Dough

15 large eggs 10 tablespoons regular-strength chicken broth or water 10 teaspoons olive oil About 10-2/3 cups (about 4 lb.) semolina flour for pasta

In a food processor, whirl 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons broth, and 2 teaspoons oil to blend. With motor running, add 2 cups flour. Then add 2 to 3 more tablespoons flour until dough forms a ball and feels only slightly sticky.

Repeat steps to make 4 more batches of dough. If made ahead, put each batch in plastic bag; chill up to 2 days. Freeze to store longer. Makes about 6-1/4 pounds.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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