I was challenged by the lovely Giulia of Juls’ Kitchen to make fresh pasta for this month’s Monthly Mingle. This was such an exciting challenge for me, since I recently took a pasta class with Katie Caldesi to learn exactly how to make it although since taking the class I hadn’t put my new found skills to the test. So, the question for me was whether I had actually retained any information from that day?! My first stop was a visit to Buongiorno Italia, an award-winning local Italian food store close to my home. With Giulia as our judge, I was determined to do this the Italian way!
I was immediately inspired by the fresh produce on offer, finding some lovely bundles of British asparagus, new season’s garlic (the best I’ve ever seen) and even more exciting some goat’s cheese made on a local farm called Childwickbury by Liz and David Harris, nestled alongside the Italian cheeses. I think it is really nice to see local produce being showcased as well as Italian produce and of course, I couldn’t resist buying some Polish pasta, pierogi since they were there.
This is exactly what I love about local food shopping – you don’t always find the obvious, but in many cases you stumble across some real treats. I also picked up some ’00’ grade Italian pasta flour, some fresh, large free range eggs and a very fragrant tub of fresh basil.
Back at home, the next challenge to overcome was the fact that I had not managed to find a pasta machine. A quick phone call to a friend out in town revealed only one machine which was £60 in a cook shop. It may have been the crème de la crème of pasta machines, but I think it is a lot of money to spend especially if it is not something you will use every day. Though we had been taught how to make pasta using a machine in the class, a quick flick through ‘The Italian Cookery Course’ by Katie Caldesi (which I very much enjoyed reviewing recently for The Foodie Bugle) suggested that I could make and cut fresh pasta entirely by hand so I decided to give it a go without the machine.
To roll and cut by hand, you go through the basic stages of making a pasta dough and then you roll it on a floured surface until it is as thin as you can get it. You then roll up the two edges until they meet in the middle and using a sharp knife cut the pasta into the width you want it. You can then slide your knife beneath the pasta and as you lift the pasta up the rolls unfold.
I also found a handy step-by-step guide by Jamie Oliver – How to make fresh pasta
I used one egg to 100g of flour and that made enough for about two portions. If you make more, you would have to split the dough into smaller portions (and keep it covered) to have enough room to roll it all out.
Pasta with Asparagus, Goat’s Cheese & Lemon
Serves 4Ingredients:Fresh pasta (use 6 eggs and 600g of flour for four people)OR – the best pasta you can buy if not fresh2 bundles (500g) fresh Asparagus4 cloves garlicA drizzle of lemon-infused olive oilOR plain olive oil plus a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest140g Goat’s CheeseA handful of fresh basil leavesSea salt and freshly ground black pepperMethod:1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius
2. If you are making fresh pasta it would be better to do this first as the pasta should be left to rest for around thirty minutes.3. Chop your asparagus into bite sized/2cm pieces and put them in a baking tin along with the cloves of garlic (no need to peel), a sprinkling of sea salt, fresh pepper and a drizzle of lemon or plain olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.4. Boil a large pan of water, add a tablespoon of salt and cook your pasta according to the instructions (fresh pasta doesn’t need long at all so keep testing it to see if it is cooked.)5. Drain the pasta, saving about two tablespoons of the pasta water.6. Take your tray of asparagus from the oven and pick out the garlic cloves from the roasting tin (they will have infused the oil enough) and tumble the pasta into the tin with the roasted asparagus. Drizzle with more olive oil so that all the pasta is coated.7. Crumble over the goat’s cheese, sprinkle with fresh lemon zest and a handful of basil leaves. Serve!