bowl of pasta - feature

Learning to make handmade Tuscan pasta isn’t that difficult, especially when taught by Tuscans who make it all the time. While isolated in our home in Nebraska this week because of the coronavirus outbreak, we learned (via the internet) how to make handmade Tuscan pasta from our friends, Deb and Massi of Italy Unfiltered. They are also isolated in their home across the ocean in Italy.

How we set up the computer for the broadcast

We met Deb and Massi two years ago when we vacationed in Italy. While planning our trip, we got an email from the couple, inviting us to tour with them for a few days. We would experience Italy like locals, eating Tuscan pasta, tasting wines, and savoring classic Italian cuisine. How could we turn that down?

Based near Siena, Italy Unfiltered provides full service to its guests. Deb and Massi took us on a foodie tour of Siena we’ll never forget. And the experiences tasting wine and cooking that they set up were nothing short of magical. They also took us to the Prosecco Region, and it quickly became one of our favorite destinations in the world.

postcard jar with pasta in Italy

Among the services they offer is transportation. Massi is a licensed NCC driver in Italy, meaning he has a special permit for carrying tourists. And with that special license, he can drive places most cars aren’t allowed, meaning you get true door-to-door service. Ok, now let’s get to the pasta!

The idea for a Tuscan pasta class

Needless to say, we made fond memories with Deb and Massi and have stayed in contact with them since our trip. Since becoming isolated due to the coronavirus outbreak in both Italy and the US, we all had longed for connection. After talking a bit, we had an idea to connect virtually, make (and eat) pasta, and share it all with you. We hosted a live Facebook event Thursday, March 26, where Deb and Massi cooked handmade Tuscan pasta in their kitchen in Tuscany, while we cooked in our kitchen in Crete, Nebraska.

It was a wonderful experience and definitely a highlight of our week at home.


Tuscan pasta pin

Here’s how you make handmade Tuscan pasta

Here’s what Deb and Massi said we’d need to make Tuscan pasta and vegetarian sauce.

Ingredients for the day's cooking

There are some substations, as well. For instance, if you don’t have a rolling pin, you could also use a filled wine or vinegar bottle. If you don’t have Semolina flour, just just and equal part of all-purpose flour instead for your Tuscan pasta. 
ingredients for pasta and sauce

The first thing we did was cut up all of our vegetables and garlic and set those aside. You want to dice the vegetables into very small pieces for this rustic sauce. In our opinion, we didn’t cut our carrots quite small enough.

Vegetables cut for the sauce

Then, we moved on to the handmade Tuscan pasta! We didn’t use a bread maker or food processor for this step. We did it the old fashioned way. The first thing we did was measure out our flour and put it in a glass bowl. We made a little crater in the middle and added our egg and extra virgin olive oil.

egg and flour

Next, we mixed it together with a fork until it was well blended and then kneaded the dough. We let the dough rest in the bowl covered with a towel for about the 30 minutes.

Now, back to the Tuscan pasta sauce

We sautéed the garlic and vegetables in extra virgin olive oil and then added the tomatoes, water, and basil. It smelled so good! While the sauce was simmering, we rolled the Tuscan pasta dough out until it was translucent and we could see our hand through the dough.

vegetarian pasta sauce


Pasta dough rolled out

Next came the fun part. We rolled the dough lengthwise to make two rolls that met in the center of our Tuscan pasta. (There are more details on how to do this in the recipe.)

Rolling the pasta dough for cutting

The next step is to cut the Tuscan pasta into strips and lift it with our kitchen knife!

Pasta cut hanging on the knife

Time to pull our Tuscan pasta and sauce together

Next, we added the pasta to heavily salted boiling water (with a little olive oil) and let it boil for about 4-5 minutes.

Handmade pasta boiling

When the Tuscan pasta was al dente, we drained the pasta and gently placed about half of it in a bowl. The sauce had thickened by then and we poured a generous amount onto the pasta, garnished it with a basil leaf and gave it a try. Delicious!

Steve with finished pasta and sauce

Here are Italy Unfiltered’s recipes for the handmade Tuscan pasta and vegetarian sauce. Let us know if you make this dish and tag us with a photo on social media @postcardjar and @travelitalyunfiltered. 

handmade egg pasta

handmade tuscan pastarustic vegetarian pasta sauce recipe



  • And, we have a baby bird! A cowbird, that is. ⁣
We were so excited when we found eggs in the nest two house finches built in a fern on our front porch in Pawhuska, Okla. When we posted a picture of the nest last week, several readers pointed out that one of the eggs was not like the others - - it was a cowbird egg.⁣
Cowbirds, it turns out, have kind of a bad reputation. It seems that they don’t build nests of their own. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and let the other birds raise their chicks. The cowbird chicks tend to develop faster than the other nestlings, and sometimes out compete them for food and resources. Because of this, there are those who give advice to remove the cowbird egg from the nest. ⁣
According to an article we read on the Audubon Society’s website, though, there are several reasons to leave the cowbird egg in place: ⁣
First, cowbirds are native to North America and have been here for millions of years and we are never going to teach them how and where to lay their eggs a different way. ⁣
Second, cowbirds are, like all other songbirds, protected in the US. In short, it’s illegal to remove their eggs.⁣
Third, cowbirds have been known to check the nests where they leave their eggs and will, occasionally, destroy nests from which their eggs have been taken. As a result, all of the resident chicks would be killed, as well, instead of one or two being outcompeted for resources. ⁣
Because of these reasons, we decided to let the natural process play out in our fern. We’ll see what happens. But what we do know is that the cowbird hatched first...and that chick is hungry.
  • 🏡 We've had such a wonderful time at our Pawhuska, Okla., home. It felt so good to actually pack a suitcase again, even if we just went to our house there and stayed put. We walked together every day, drove through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and chatted with friends from a distance on our front porch. We took time to watch the sunset and see a mama house finch care for her babies in our hanging fern. We also explored a state park and found a waterfall. ⁣
Most importantly, we got to see our daughter, Meghan. She is an ICU nurse in Tulsa and because of her potential exposure to coronavirus, we'd not spent any time together in months. But Ann found a way to create a safe (and decorative) outdoor space for all of us to visit, share a few meals, and just be in each others' presence. We can’t tell you what a comfort it was to see her again. ⁣
In this time of sickness and uncertainty, it was nice to have a clean, safe place to get away. We are so thankful to have found this gem of a town, so many supportive and caring friends here,  and a second place to call home.
  • As we've been home since March 12, Steve has taken up bread making as a hobby. His sour dough starter is looking promising, but he also found the easiest four-ingredient artisan bread recipe that is so impressive. ⁣
We've shared the results a few times on social media and many of you have asked for the recipe, so he wrote a blog post about it. We've included a link in our bio with step-by-step instructions on how to make it. ⁣
If you bake this artisan bread, we'd love to hear about it (and see a photo). Just be sure to tag us @postcardjar. ⁣
We love this bread plain, with olive oil and seasoning, as toast with almond or peanut butter, and grilled for bruschetta. If you use the #Noom app like us, it is about 100 calories a serving (12 servings in loaf).
  • As we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day, we hope you will join us in honoring others in a time of reflection, gratitude and respect. ⁣
Both Steve's grandfathers and Ann's grandfathers all served in the military and fought in WWII. We took this photo a few years ago at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City, Nebraska, where Ann's grandfather, Donald Shrewsbury, was laid to rest.
  • Today is the day! This afternoon our friends and fellow travel writers @lindseyranzau and @coleranzau are taking over our Instagram stories and we can’t wait for you to meet them.⁣
⁣They are travel experts on everything Minnesota and will also be sharing some of their favorite Midwest destinations in honor of #NationalRoadTripDay! ⁣
⁣Lindsey and Cole have traveled the world and love finding hidden gems and writing about them on their blog, Look About Lindsey (link in bio). You’re going to love their personalities as much as their incredible photography so be sure to watch our stories and say hello.⁣
⁣And, to see our picks for best Midwest road trips, follow @lindseyranzau where we’ll be taking over her IG stories. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you’ll come along.
  • We are so excited to announce that Minneapolis-based travel writers Lindsey and Cole Ranzau of the blog Look About Lindsey will be taking over the Postcard Jar Instagram stories Friday, May 22! In celebration of National Road Trip Day, we are trading places (and IG stories!) to show each others' followers some of our favorite Midwest road trips and destinations. ⁣
We encourage you to check out our stories tomorrow to meet Cole and Lindsey (they are so much fun) and follow @lindseyranzau where we'll be sharing some of our favorite Midwest travel experiences on their Instagram stories. When the time is right and you feel you can travel safely, we hope you'll consider a road trip in the Midwest. ⁣
You can check out the Look About Lindsey blog at the link in our bio. ⁣
@natdaycal @pilotflyingj
  • The @pwmercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, reopened today. We have talked to folks here who said employees have been working hard to clean and sanitize everything. On our walk today, we noticed that hand sanitizer that was readily available, tables were spaced out, and Merc employees were wearing face masks in accordance with CDC recommentations. We hope visitors to our little town will also do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska