Feature

How to: handmade pasta

Green Lifestyle magazine

Slow the pace of a busy kitchen with the meditative power of making fresh pasta by hand.

Breaking the eggs

Break the eggs into the well in the mound of flour.

Whisk the eggs

Whisk the eggs with a fork.

mix-pasta

Gradually mix the rest of flour in.

pasta-story

Ivan’s pear agnolotti with gorgonzola and walnuts

- Advertisement -

Several friends of mine who are accomplished bakers balked at making pasta, but once they saw the process, they couldn’t believe how easy and quick it is. It takes about 30 minutes. Making pasta by hand seems meditative; to pulse it for a few turns in the food processor is fast. Either way produces fine results.

Basic pasta:
2½ cups plain flour, plus
extra for kneading
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tbs water, plus extra if needed

By hand: Mound the flour on a work surface and form a well in the middle. Break the eggs into the well and whisk with a fork. Add the salt, olive oil and one tablespoon of water and combine, gradually adding the flour as you go, until most of it is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until smooth. Add more water if the dough feels too dry. Shape into a flattened disc. Cover dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

By food processor: In a small bowl, beat the eggs, salt, olive oil and one tablespoon of water. Place the flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the egg mixture, pulsing until the mixture just starts to form a ball. Add more water if the dough feels too dry. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth. Shape into a flattened disc. Cover dough with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

The fun starts here:
Divide the disc into four wedges – don’t attempt to roll out the whole disc at once. Lightly dust your work surface, rolling pin and hands with flour, and roll out one of the dough wedges to about 3 mm thick.

Cut the dough into the shape you need; wide strips for lasagne or thin strips for tagliatelle. Leave the pasta strips hanging over the rungs of a folding clothes rack or a broom propped between two chairs while you roll out the other three wedges.

We use a hand-cranked pasta machine and find this easier than wielding the rolling pin. Feed one of the four wedges of dough into the machine on the lowest setting, then on the next highest setting. Keep running the strip through on consecutively higher settings, up to the second-to-last setting, or until almost transparent pieces unfurl and the pasta is about 90 cm long. One recipe of pasta makes four of these swaths – enough for a big lasagne, about forty small ravioli or a generous pan of cannelloni.

Ivan’s pear agnolotti with gorgonzola and walnuts

Delicatissimo, this pasta. And so is the act of making it: the floury crimped moons, the pale filling, then the folded puffs. It feels more like a poem than a pasta. But then the taste delivers a punch: the pungent cheese, ricotta with its hint of hay, and the airy perfume of pear.

Serves 6

1 lot of basic pasta
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
10 walnut halves, toasted and chopped
Parsley, chopped, to garnish

For the filling:
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large nearly ripe pear, such as beurre bosc, peeled, cored, and cut in large dice
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp pepper
1 cup full-cream ricotta
¾ cup grated parmesan
1 whole egg
nutmeg, a few gratings

For the cream sauce:
4 tbs unsalted butter
200 g gorgonzola, in chunks
½ cup thick cream

Prepare the filling:
In a small pan, heat the oil over medium-to-low heat. Add the pear, salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes, until the pear is barely fork tender. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, beat the ricotta, parmesan, egg and nutmeg. Fold in the cooked pear.

Roll out pasta, following directions on previous page. Using a glass or round cutter, make circles 6-7 cm in diameter.

Place about 2 teaspoons of the pear filling in the centre of half of the pasta circles. Brush the egg wash around the edges. Cover each with another pasta circle. Crimp all around with the tines of a fork to adhere the two circles.

Prepare the cream sauce:
Over low heat, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the gorgonzola. When the cheese has melted, add the cream. Keep the cream sauce warm over low heat.

Bring it all together:
In a large pot, boil some salted water then add the agnolotti. Return to the boil, then cook for about three minutes, until the pasta floats to the top and the edges are tender. Spoon pasta onto the plate and top with the sauce. Sprinkle with walnuts and parsley.