When thinking of my first posts, I knew, without a doubt, pasta had to be a priority. We make fresh pasta once a week, and as we became more confident, we have also become more experimental. From chocolate fusilli, to spinach rigatoni and tricolour ravioli… We’re always on the lookout for a new challenge. We have learnt a few lessons along the way – I’ll be sharing these with you, of course.
While it may seem daunting and time-consuming to make fresh pasta, once you get into a routine, you’ll be rolling out fresh sheets in no time.
Please note, I have no authority in the cooking world. I’m sharing, from one friend to another, what I know, what I’ve tested and what I’ve learnt.
What do you need?
1. Pasta machine
2. Wooden rolling pin
3. Pasta cutter (however a knife will work)
There are many extra tools which can be purchased should you wish to really kit yourself out, such as ravioli trays, circle and square cutters, the list goes on. Personally, I just use the above items as I’ve found these easiest to work with.
A few easy shapes to make at home
Pappardelle: This is a wider version of tagliatelle. We cut ours by hand using a pasta cutter – you can really make it as wide as you like. We usually make it 1.5 – 2cm.
Tagliatelle: This is our personal favourite, we make this the most. Tagliatelle is about 0.5 – 1cm thick. You can cut this yourself or run through your tagliatelle pasta cutter, which usually comes as an extension with your pasta machine.
Spaghetti: A long thin cylindrical pasta, very popular in stores. Easily made with a spaghetti cutter for the machine.
Farfalle: These cuties look like little bow ties. To create farfalle, cut small rectangles and pinch in the middle to create a bow effect.
Ravioli: Filled pasta, there are so many ways to make this. The simplest method that we use, is to have one long sheet of pasta, add spoonfuls of your filling, fold the sheet over, press the edges together and cut into desired shape.
|Lesson Learnt: Tagliatelle and spaghetti in my experience dry well overnight, however thicker pastas need longer. I have previously put away beautiful rainbow farfalle too early, for it to get mouldy due to excess moisture.|
Shapes and sauces
I used to think the pasta you chose to cook was based on personal preference… The all-knowing pasta master, Antonio Carluccio taught me otherwise in his book ‘Pasta’. Different pastas will go better with different sauces. A simple way to remember this – is the smoother the pasta, the thinner the sauce. So, for example: a silky tagliatelle will be perfect with burnt butter and a bit of sage. Rigatoni, or penne, however have ridges – which is more suited to thicker, chunkier sauces such as a ragu (as the sauce sticks to it). I think this is a helpful guideline, but of course there are no rules – if you want to make a hearty, robust sauce with a long silky spaghetti… Go for it!
Our go-to pasta recipe
For a long time, we got by just fine with our basic recipe of 4 eggs, 400g flour with a glug of olive oil. Until one day when we went to my Dad’s, and watched him create the best, tastiest, silkiest pasta ever. Since that day, we have stuck with his recipe – and never looked back. It is utter perfection.
- 430g all-purpose cake flour (Tipo ’00 is usually recommended as it’s finer, however we’ve been using this for a while and find it works just as well)
- 4 large eggs
- A pinch of turmeric, this gives the dough a nice yellow colour
- 100g butter at room temperature
- Extra flour for dusting
On your work surface, or in a bowl, make a well with the flour and break in the eggs in the centre of the well. With a fork, gradually mix the flour with the eggs until it starts to come together, then use your hands to continue mixing. Add in the turmeric and incorporate the butter.
Knead the dough by stretching it out with the palm of your hand and rolling it back together. Keep doing this until the dough feels nice and smooth – this will take a good 5 – 10 minutes. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To roll out the dough, divide the dough into about 8 pieces and lightly flour your work surface. Roll a piece of dough with a rolling pin – so it’s a little flatter, then pass through the steel rollers of your pasta machine – with the maximum space between the rollers of about 1cm. After passing through once or twice, adjust the setting smaller, and remember to flour your pasta in between each roll. Roll to the desired thickness, keep in mind different shapes may be suited to different thickness.
Once you have achieved your desired shapes, cook your pasta or hang or lay your pasta to dry. When hanging spaghetti or tagliatelle, we use empty coat-hangers, this way we can make really long strands. Overnight usually does the trick!
|Tip: To adjust the recipe quantities, keep in mind this ratio: 1 egg per 100g flour. This recipe uses an additional 30g to accommodate the butter we add in.|
Because there is always more to be said of pasta, I’ll be doing a few posts in the ‘Pasta Masta’ series, if you have any questions or comments – feel free to comment below. I hope you found this post helpful… Ready to roll?