Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
Macaroune b Toum is a very special family dish filled with memories. When my Sitto, grandmother prepared this traditional garlicky pasta dish, she would instruct my mother and her siblings to gather small branches from the Zaytoun olive trees outside. The children would then sharpen the branches and use them instead of forks to eat the pasta pieces. My mother continued this wonderful tradition with my siblings and me growing up in Upstate, New York. These memories, traditions, and dishes that have passed through the generations always make me so proud of my Lebanese heritage.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus additional for sprinkling
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely minced
Toum Sauce (Lebanese garlic and olive oil, made without the lemon juice)
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and run your fingers through it to break up any clumps. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of the sea salt and mix in thoroughly. Using your hands, create a well in the center of the flour and pour 1 1⁄2 cups of lukewarm water into the well. Using one hand to steady the bowl, begin to incorporate the flour with your other hand, sweeping along the sides of the well and then blending the flour into the water. Be sure to gather the loose flour that sits at the bottom of the bowl and blend it with the water as well. Once the water has been entirely incorporated into the flour, and the mixture has come together, lift the dough from the bottom of the bowl and fold it over on itself. Do this a few times, then roll the dough together with your fists until it is smooth, slightly moist, and bounces back when touched. Make sure not to overwork the dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little lukewarm water by the 1⁄2 teaspoon, and if it is too moist, add a little more flour by the teaspoon. Shape the dough into a ball and set aside.
Lightly flour a cutting board or clean countertop. Place the dough ball in the center and, using a dough cutter or sharp knife, slice the dough into quarters. Working with a quarter at a time, place the dough in the palms of your hands and tuck it under. Then, stretch the dough into a smooth, flat, round disk, place it on the board, and roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄4 inch thick.
Slice the dough into long, 1-inch vertical strips, and then slice horizontally into 2-inch pieces. Lightly flour the small pieces and continue in the same manner with the remaining dough.
Flip a colander upside down. Take each piece of dough and roll over the holes of the colander, rolling the dough back and forth to create tiny circles in the pasta. Repeat with the remaining strips. Set pieces aside on the floured board.
Bring 8 cups of water and the 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to a rolling boil in a large pot. Using a slotted spoon or handheld strainer, submerge the pasta pieces into the boiling water adding in small batches, shaking out any excess flour beforehand. Stir gently with a wooden spoon so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and has risen to the top.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the Toum according to the recipe directions but omit the freshly squeezed lemon juice. The sauce should have a creamy consistency.
As soon as the pasta has cooked, transfer it to a large mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce to coat. Sprinkle with minced mint leaves and serve hot.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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