Fresh homemade pasta tastes delicious, costs practically nothing, and is great fun to make. Perfect for a rainy weekend, you can even get the kids involved.
Makes enough for 2 people.
200g ‘00’ flour
2 medium free-range eggs
pinch of salt
00 grade flour is a high quality, finely milled flour which has a higher gluten content than standard plain flour, making the mixture stronger without being heavier, so it is ideal for pasta.
Place the flour and salt onto a clean work surface in a mound.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs.
Using a fork, gradually mix the eggs into the flour.
When the dough becomes too thick to mix with the fork, continue to mix with your hands.
Form the dough into a firm, smooth ball.
Knead the dough by pushing downward and forward.
Fold in half, turn and knead again.
Repeat this process for about 10 minutes.
Like kneading bread, this stretches the gluten in the flour to make a smooth, silky dough.
Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
Flatten the pieces by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Roll out by hand with a rolling-pin until very thin, or use a pasta roller.
Using a pasta machine, set the rollers to its widest setting and run each piece of pasta through, fold in half and repeat.
Change to the next setting and repeat.
Continue until all the pasta has been rolled to the desired thickness.
Cut the sheets of pasta into sheets about 30cm long and arrange on a lightly floured work surface. Use as is for lasagne, cannelloni etc.
Use the pasta machine to cut into strips for tagliatelle, linguine etc. Lay the cut pasta out on clean cloths or hang on batons to dry before cooking in boiling, salted water for about 4-5 minutes.
Drain, season and oil, serve with a sauce of your choice and top with grated or shaved Parmesan.
Flavour the dough with cooked spinach, herb paste, dried mushroom powder or squid ink as a variation.
Wild garlic pesto
A simple herb paste to coat the cooked pasta.
The classic version is with basil, Parmesan, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil.
These ingredients can be substituted according to taste and availability.
I like to do a wild garlic version in the Spring, for example but you could use practically any soft herb.
A good handful basil, rocket, parsley, wild garlic or nettles etc.
A dessertspoon toasted pine nuts, cashews, almonds or hazelnuts
A clove of garlic, peeled (omit if using wild garlic)
A cup of grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
A dessertspoon of olive oil or rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
A squeeze of lemon (optional)
Place herbs, garlic, cheese and nuts into a food processor (or use a hand blender) and blitz to chop.
Stir the mixture and add the olive oil.
Blitz again to form a paste. I like to leave as a rough paste, retaining some texture.
Season with salt , pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Let down with more olive oil for a more drizzle-able consistency, if desired.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Stir the pesto into the cooked pasta, add double cream for a creamier sauce.
Sprinkle with grated or shaved Parmesan.
A simple herb and ricotta filling:
125g ricotta, ewe’s curd or other soft cheese
a handful of parsley, chives, basil, sorrel, cooked spinach or wild garlic etc.
salt and pepper
a dessertspoon grated Parmesan
Place the cheese in a bowl. Add the egg, salt and chopped herbs and mix well.
Wild mushroom filling:
25g dried wild mushrooms (or fresh)
1 diced shallot or half a small onion
a clove of garlic
salt and pepper
a dessertspoon grated Parmesan
thyme leaves, tarragon, parsley, chives or basil etc.
Sweat the onion and garlic off in a little olive oil until softened.
Rehydrate the mushrooms in a little boiling water (or slice and cook off if using fresh).
Leave to cool slightly then blitz onion, garlic, mushrooms, cheese, herbs and egg with a hand blender or in a food processor.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The fillings are easier to use if they’re a firm-ish paste, if too wet try adding some breadcrumbs.
Arrange teaspoonfuls of filling onto the pasta sheets at intervals of about 5cms.
Moisten around the filling with cold water and place another pasta sheet on top.
Press gently around the filling to expel air bubbles.
Use a knife, pasta or pizza cutter, or biscuit cutter to cut squares, or circles around each mound of filling, ensuring the edges are sealed.
Cut the pasta sheets into circles with a biscuit cutter.
Place teaspoonfuls of filling just off-centre.
Moisten edges with cold water and fold in half with the filling in the middle.
Gently press around the filling to expel any air bubbles.
Hold with the filling at the bottom in one hand. Fold the top over and pull the other two corners round the filling to meet each other, press to seal.
Lay the stuffed pasta onto clean cloths or floured tray and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
Cook in boiling, salted water for about 5-6 minutes.
Drain and serve with grated/shaved Parmesan, salt, pepper and olive oil/sage butter/pesto.