Homemade pasta is a breeze. There are just 2 things to remember; ‘many hands make light work’ and ‘go hard or go home’. Invite friends over and put them to work. Get a production line happening, hand them a glass of red for their troubles and you’ll be laughing. After having the right ratio of flour to eggs (which you will after you read this recipe), the next most important step is in the kneading and working of the dough. You need to be prepared to give it some good elbow grease and body heat to develop the gluten, as this is what makes the end product springy and al dente. You want the texture of the dough to be silky smooth. You’ll soon see that it really isn’t hard at all to have perfectly al dente, fresh, home made pasta everytime you feel the urge for a bit of I-talian.
In making great pasta, it’s also important to use Tipo 00 flour. This refers to how finely the pasta is milled, and Tipo 00 is the finest durum wheat flour available. Containing high levels of gluten and protein, it’s perfect for pasta making (and pizza too). You can get it at most supermarkets these days.
As for the accompanying sauce or flavours, the key is; less is best. After you’ve gone to the effort of making fresh pasta, you want it to be the hero, and the additional flavours to complement, not overpower. My favourite pasta is fat pappardelle because it’s big enough that there’s still loads of texture if cooked to perfection. My favourite accompaniments are chorizo for its saltiness, spiciness and meatiness, basil for its beautiful flavour and the colour it adds to the dish, lemon for its freshness and the way it makes everything taste that little bit healthier, mozzarella for its subtlety, parmesan for its savouriness and bite, and olive oil – but only the best.
ingredients for pasta
makes enough for 4-6 (4 starving people or 6 petit eaters)
pasta maker/machine or a rolling pin & a big, sturdy, clean work surface
600g type 00 flour
ingredients for the accompanying sauce
enough for 4
2 chorizo, thickly sliced on an angle
2 trays of truss tomatoes (a total of at least 25 toms), rinsed
bunch of fresh basil, rinsed and leaves picked
250g bocconcini or a whole mozzarella to grate (perfect italiano style)
block of parmesan, ready to grate
1 whole lemon
good quality olive oil
Pour the flour onto a large, clean surface in a mountain, and make a well in the centre. Drop the eggs in the centre. Using your fingertips (or your friends’) incorporate the flour with the eggs until combined. Before this next step, make sure the work station surfaces are well floured. Once it resembles a lump, split it in 2 and share them around and get everyone kneading, stretching, pulling, pushing, rolling and squashing the dough (not specifically in that order!). It can take 15-20 minutes… take turns if your guests are pansies. You know it’s ready when the pasta is less floury and more silky smooth. Cover the 2 mounds in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Have a celebratory drink – you are half way there!
Setup your pasta machine and put the lasagne maker on the widest setting. Split the dough so you now have 4 balls. Start with 1 of the balls and on a floured surface, press it out flat, but not too wide (it has to fit the width of the pasta maker). Roll it through the pasta maker. Fold the pasta in half, an run it through again. Click the pasta maker down to the next thinnest setting, and roll it through again. If the pasta is sticking at all, dust it in a bit more flour. Alternate between these two settings a few times (when going up to the wider setting, fold the pasta in half again… this helps to work the pasta for a great texture.) After repeating on the lower of the 2 settings, start rolling through, moving down the settings… as it gets longer, you’ll need to start catching it out the other side, and dust it every time with a bit more flour. Stop at setting number 7 for pappardelle. Dust the work surface, lay out the lasagne sheet and dust the top side of the pasta sheet. Start rolling it up, making folds every 2 inches or so. It’s important not to be stingy on the dusting here, as otherwise, you won’t be able to unravel them when it’s time for cooking it. With a sharp knife, cut the pasta into about 1 inch thick strips (don’t cut the wrong way or you will end up with lots of little strips instead of beautiful long pappardelle strands). Spread out over a plate or cutting board (yes, you guessed it, make sure it’s floured!), and if it’s a hot climate, place in the fridge, or at least away from intense heat.
Now it’s time to prepare your accompanying sauce or flavours. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pan fry the chorizo on high heat in a non stick pan until browned. Place the tomatoes (still on their trusses) on a large oven tray, drizzle with some olive oil, and pour over the chorizo with the juices. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are juicy and a little wrinkled (see picture above). Have all the other ingredients ready to go out on the bench with a grater handy.
Once you’ve got the sauce ready to go, bring large pot of water to the boil with half a handful of salt and a generous swig of olive oil. Have a large bowl and a colander ready too. The pappardelle will need no more than 1 – 2 minutes cooking time so be on the ready. Test out the cooking time with just one strand, make sure to completely unravel before dropping it in. Remember that it will cook a bit more once you take it out, so allow for this when testing the al dente-ness. Do the rest in batches. Once you are sure of the cooking time, start to unravel all the pasta, and drop it in. Once cooked, use tongs to gently pull out the pasta, place it in the colander over the sink. Transfer to the bowl and cover in a swig of olive oil. Serve onto plates, top with the tomato and chorizo, a few basil leaves, dress with a tablespoon of the tomato/chorizo oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a grate of lemon rind, parmesan and mozzarella (either some torn bocconcini balls or a grate of the whole mozzarella).