300g ‘00’ flour
20ml extra virgin olive oil
Makes 480g of fresh pasta - enough for 4 serves
1. There are two ways to mix your pasta dough – the traditional way, and the modern way.
2. Traditional method – place your flour in a pile on your workbench, and make a well in the middle. Lightly beat the eggs and oil with a pinch of salt, and pour into the well. Using your fingers in a circular motion, gradually start to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture from the sides of the well. Continue until you have a reasonably firm ball of dough. You may not incorporate all of the flour, but that’s OK. This method relies on you developing a feel for the pasta dough, knowing that your eggs are always slightly different sizes, and this will affect the amount of flour required.
3. Modern method – place all of the ingredients into a small food processor, and blend until the dough comes together into a reasonably firm ball. You may need to add some extra flour or a few drops of water to achieve the correct consistency.
4. Wrap the pasta dough in plastic wrap, and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. [Note: if you are hungry, you can skip this step, and it won’t affect the pasta too much]
5. Remove the dough from the fridge, and divide into 3 pieces. Cover the remaining 2 pieces with the plastic wrap so that they don't dry out.
6. Lightly dust your working surface with some flour. Try not to use too much flour during this stage, as you don’t want to incorporate more into your pasta and affect the consistency of the dough.
7. Run the pasta dough through the thickest setting on the pasta machine. Fold the dough in half, turn 180 degrees and run through the pasta machine again. Do this 4-5 more times on the thickest setting. This stage (know as laminating) is important to ensuring a silky smooth pasta, so don’t cheat at this stage.
8. Move the pasta machine to the next setting, and run the dough through 3-4 more times, folding and rotating after each pass.
9. You can now continue running the pasta through the machine for a single pass at each setting until you reach the desired thickness. You may need to cut the pasta in half if it starts to get too long, and to dust lightly with flour if it starts to become sticky.
10.For linguine and fettuccine, I prefer to use the thinnest setting, but for filled pasta such as ravioli and tortellini, or for lasagne sheets, I prefer to use the second thinnest setting (it makes it easier to fill the pasta). However, it is perfectly acceptable to make slightly thicker pasta of any type.
11.If you are making filled pasta, it’s best to fill each sheet as you make it, before rolling out the remaining pasta, so that it doesn’t dry out.
12.If you are making linguine or fettuccine, lightly dust the cut pasta with a little flour or semolina to stop it from sticking, and toss occasionally whilst rolling out the remaining pasta dough. Ideally, you should cook the pasta as soon as you can after making it, but you can hang the pasta strands on a wire rack to partially dry and stop from sticking together, until you are ready to cook.
Cooking Fresh Pasta
1. Fresh pasta needs plenty of salted boiling water to cook properly. And by salted, I mean almost like sea water. Use 1 teaspoon of salt per litre of water, and 1 litre of water per 100g of pasta, to ensure that is cooks well.
2. You shouldn’t add any oil to your water as the pasta is cooking – the pasta won’t stick together.
3. Make sure that the water is boiling, and add the pasta. Return to the boil, and cook for 3-4 minutes until just cooked through. The pasta should be al dente, which means to the tooth – the pasta should just retain a little bite (not crunch). The dentist in me won’t forgive you if you over-cook your pasta!!
Cooking Lasagne Sheets
1. Cut the pasta sheets into large rectangles, remembering that they will increase in size by about 15-25% during cooking.
2. Add 1-2 sheets at a time to a large pot of well salted boiling water (see above). Cook for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a large bowl of iced water to refresh. Once they have cooled, remove from the iced water and lay on a lightly oiled baking tray until ready to use
3. Even though the lasagne sheets are thicker than your fettuccine or linguine, they don’t need to be cooked for longer, because they will be cooked with the lasagne in the oven.
Cooking Ravioli and Tortellini
1. It’s usually fine to cook your filled pasta in boiling water using the method described above. However, care needs to be taken depending on the type of filling.
2. If the filling is already cooked, then the ravioli or tortellini only needs to be cooked for long enough to cook the pasta, which will be sufficient to heat through the filling.
3. If the filling is uncooked (particularly seafood), then I find it is better to steam the ravioli or tortellini. This is a more gentle way of cooking the pasta, to ensure that the filling is completely cooked through, but without compromising the pasta (sometimes over boiling the ravioli or tortellini can cause them to split, and the filling to leak out).
4. To steam the ravioli or tortellini, first dunk them quickly in salted boiling water for about 1-2 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon and refresh in iced water to stop them from cooking. Place in a bamboo steamer lined with baking paper, and steam for 3-4 minutes, until the centre is hot.