A bit more of Italy yet not so simple! Pasta…

Homemade pasta – something I have wanted to try for a long, long time. So long, in fact, that the pasta machine I bought sat in my cupboard, wrapped, for two years until I finally got around to try it.

With my mother in law and three children, the task began!

Jamie Oliver is always a great reference; his basic pasta recipe did not disappoint but did alter it a bit as I added a little salt and olive oil to the dough.

My pasta machine however…never again! It would not stick to the table, kept over flowing etc etc….I have never laughed so much in my life and it took us over four hours to make dinner!!! Luckily the children thought it was hilarious and the end result was so tasty no-one seemed to care. I will make my own pasta again for sure…but without a machine!

Fresh Pasta

 
1 egg for every 100g type 00 flour (or pasta flour as it is sometimes called)
Bit of salt
Bit of olive oil
 
  • I was feeding three children and three adults so used 600g of flour and 6 eggs – I could have easily made more (they loved it and ate like they had never seen food!)
  • Place your flour in a nice mountain shape on your counter top
  • Make a well in the middle
  • Crack your eggs into the well
  • Sprinkle the salt on top
  • Add about 1/4 tsp olive oil per egg into the well
  • Using a fork, make the eggs smooth
  • Using your fingers, gently combine the flour and eggs until everything is mixed
  • Keep kneading the dough until you have a smooth lump – this takes time and patience is needed
  • Once combined, knead away until the consistency of your dough changes – it will look silky and smooth when ready. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on how strong you are! (If you have a good food mixer let a dough hook do the work for you) You are doing this to ensure you have springy pasta at the end – if you do not knead and develop the gluten in the flour, the pasta will turn out soft and soggy
  • Place in cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • Once cold, I placed small bits of dough into my pasta machine and fought the machine for four hours in order to create something that resembled tagliatelle….
  • If you have no machine, count your blessings! Roll out the dough, in small batches, until it is very thin – one to two centimetres at the most. The, using a sharp knife, create the desired shape of pasta you want – be it lasagne sheets; spaghetti; tagliatelle; ravioli etc
  • Leave to dry for 15 minutes on a tea towel
  • Pop into simmering water with a bit of added salt and cook for no longer than a few minutes – pasta should always be “al dente”  – “to the tooth”….. Never ever soft!
  • Enjoy with your choice of sauce – I made mine with pesto (and a bit of philadelphia mixed in for the children as I like my pesto very garlicky!)

Nothing beats the classic Pesto

Pesto – just hearing the word makes me hungry; takes me to Italy, to thoughts of parmesan, garlic and gorgeous bruschetta, stuffed ravioli and fresh pasta recipes. I think dip, I think bread sticks, I think green, healthy…. Really, I just want it! So when the thought hit me the other day I had to make it!

A family food – yes, my children love it (I put a little less garlic in when they are having it with us and sometimes dilute it slightly with cream cheese in pasta dishes) – and very versatile. Can be used for any occasion! I like it as a dip, often just eat it by the spoon (!), and sprinkled over ripe, red tomatoes. Some people add it to their soup…never tried…but not one to judge!  It can be a simple dish but very much an extravagant one…never boring though!

It is, and I know I say this about most of what I cook, so easy to make. Ridiculously easy in fact. If you don’t believe me, try it!

I have made pesto this way since I was 13! My fabulous step mother, very good in a kitchen, taught me how to make it and I have never looked back! This makes enough to cover 500g pasta. Don’t worry about left overs! Keeps well in a jar in the fridge.

50g pine nuts
50g parmesan cheese in small chunks
2 cloves of garlic – peeled – ( this is the child friendly version! Add more if you like!)
A lot of basil….I love it….probably the equivalent of 1 large pot or two bags if you buy those
Pinch of salt (be careful not to add too much as the parmesan is salty on its own – may even be omitted)
Extra virgin olive oil…enough to make it smooth, but not so much that it covers everything. You will see what I mean as you pour it into the mix. Start slow – you can always add more later. I probably use about 120ml, give or take!
 
  •  Chuck all the ingredients, but only a glug (equivalent to about 1 tbsp) of the olive oil, into a food processor. If you do not have one, get one! 🙂 No, just kidding! If you don’t own any chopping machine you will have to do that bit of the job yourself, quite finely, and put it in a pestle and mortar. Squash away! Will be a softer pesto but the flavours will be there which is the most important. Or, just leave quite rough and ready. All good!

  • Start the food processor, or your arm, and add olive oil in small quantities as it churns. The mixture will change from dry to wet – from lumpy to smoothish and from separate colours to a sea of green. Smell it! Stunning right? Basil….yum!
  • When you think it is smooth enough – most people have a preference – stop the machinery or your arm! Stir a spoon through it. If it feels good you are done! If it feels or looks a bit dry, just add some more olive oil and stir through.
  • Put it in a jar in your fridge and use as and when you feel the need to smile!

Note

This is a really cute gift! Put a nice ribbon around your jar, maybe a hand written label, and give it as a housewarming gift with grissini (or posh breadsticks) as I call them!

Finally, make sure those around you have it too, especially your partner if you have one! Garlic is best when shared!!!  If you have no idea what I am on about, try being in close proximity to someone who has had garlic when you have not….let me know how it was!