When looking at a lot of Italian recipes that you find on the web and in books for pasta dishes, there is not always an explanation of how to make pasta. Most of the time there is an expectation that you will just use packet pasta, which is fine, but it isn’t that difficult to make your own and it tastes much better.
When we (Sophie and me) spent a week in Tuscany for a friend’s wedding in the summer I learnt the quickest easiest way to make pasta, and I want to share it.
We spent an afternoon learning some amazing Italian recipes with a lovely lady called Nonna Ciana, who with her friend (and translator) Valeria had set up ‘Le Pietre Vive’ cookery school near Siena.
This is her simple tagliatelle recipe so you can have a go. The pics are also really useful, so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.
(Serves 3-4: increase by 1 egg/100g flour as necessary)
300 gr. All purpose flour – Italian type 0 or OO plus more for dusting (you can get this from most supermarkets and delicatessens)
3 eggs lightly beaten
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Water (½ egg shell full)
- Put the flour on a large pastry board or on a work surface. Make a large well in the centre and add all the eggs, water and oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and stir to blend. Beat the eggs with a fork in order to amalgamate them well. Begin mixing the flour with the eggs gathering the flour from the edge of the well with the fork. Keep on mixing the flour into the eggs until half the flour is mixed in. At this point, it becomes difficult to beat all the ingredients with the fork therefore you should keep on working with your hands blending more and more flour into the dough. In the end you will have a homogeneous dough. If the dough is too soft and sticky, add some flour.
- Knead the dough for several minutes on the work surface. Sprinkle a corner of the work surface and the dough with flour, cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let it rest for a while (at least 10 minutes – or even better 20-30 minutes).
- The dough will now be more elastic, smoother and easier to work. When the dough is rested, cut into halves, thirds or quarters depending on the quantity. Work with one piece at a time and keeping the remaining pieces covered. Knead again using the technique in the photo or one of the many Youtube videos that show you how to kneed dough) until very smooth and elastic, then roll out the pasta dough on a lightly floured surface, beginning from the centre. Use a long pasta rolling pin. Remember to sprinkle the surface of the dough and the rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking.
- Roll until very thin – remember you should be able see a newspaper headline though it! (not the Daily Mail or The Sun though, as you shouldn’t keep them in the house).
- Roll up the dough loosely and cut strips of about 2 cm. (¼ cm for tagliolini, 3cm for pappardelle). Unroll the ribbons of pasta right to the end, pile up loosely on a clean work surface sprinkled with flour. To avoid sticking while pasta is drying use a large surface. Allow to dry a little before cooking (I would suggest 30 minutes).
Serve it with whatever you like, but true to the spirit of Tuscany, make it fresh, seasonal, local and delicious.
If you are ever in or near Siena, go and spend some time cooking with Nonna Ciana and Valeria – http://www.lepietrevive.it/. The restaurant there is also very good.