There are even easier ways of making pasta than cranking it through a machine and cutting it into strands, or spending big bucks on an appliance that extrudes it for you.
Softer, more pliable flour-egg doughs that require no kneading or rolling are peculiar to many cuisines. In Italy they are called gnocchi; others call them dumplings, a term of dubious connotation these days but delicious food nonetheless. Whatever they are called, they often come paired with something wonderful -- rich gravy, spicy sauce or simply in butter with a little nutmeg, perhaps.
Such homey pastas are a cinch to make. Dropped from a spoon or squeezed from a pastry tube, they take no heavy equipment or special C-clamps. One of the easiest to make is the amorphous spaetzle of Eastern Europe -- made by cutting pieces of soft dough from the larger whole and scraping them into boiling water. Alternatively, the mixture can be pressed through a colander or made firmer and snipped with shears. Either way, these little pastas are very light and tender, as perfect with delicious sauces as their Italian cousins.
If you have a few staples (flour, sugar, butter and/or vegetable oil, salt and pepper) this meal will only require a brief trip through the express lane.
EXPRESS LANE LIST: mushrooms, onions, pork chops, white wine, light cream, eggs, red bell peppers, carrots. SAUCY PORK (4 servings) 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 pound mushrooms, sliced 1 large onion, chopped 4 pork chops, about 1 inch thick 1/4 cup white wine 1 cup light cream Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onions and stir, allowing the mushrooms to shrink and lose their moisture. Remove and set aside while adding pork chops to the skillet, browning them well on both sides. Add wine, cream, salt and papper. Return mushrooms to skillet. Cover and simmer on low heat about 20 minutes. Uncover and reduce over fairly high heat, about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. Serve with noodles or spaetzle. SPAETZLE (4 servings) 2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 egg
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl. Add pepper. Make a well in the center and stir in the egg.Add as much water (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) as is necessary to make a fairly pliable dough. Put the dough on a plate and let rest for 15 minutes while you prepare pork chops. Using a knife, cut off a 1 inch long, 1/2-inch wide edge of the mixture and scrape it from the plate into the boiling water.Repeat until dough is gone. The spaetzle will sink and then float to the surface as they cook. They should take three to four minutes to cook through. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with butter to keep them from sticking. Serve with pork chop gravy. SUNSHINE (4 servings) 4 carrots 2 red peppers 3 tablespoons butter Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and trim carrots and cut them into small sticks. Core and slice red peppers. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add carrots cook about 10 minutes over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and cook five to 10 minutes more. Salt and papper to taste.