Fresh Pasta with Asparagus, Goat’s Cheese and Lemon

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!

Established over 30 years ago, Buongiorno Italia is exactly the type of food store you want to have on your doorstep. Tony, the owner, goes to Covent Garden Market to bring back the best seasonal produce every week as well as stocking a huge array of authentic Italian food, including cheese, cured meats, olives, pasta, cakes, wine and lots more (including a small selection of Polish food which I was also pleased to spot!) Tony was lovely to chat to and he showed me his plans for expanding the store so that by the summer he will have some outdoor seating and an authentic cappuccino bar.

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.

      
I have no idea whether Italians would put asparagus, garlic and goat’s cheese together but I do know that Italians are very keen to use local produce and that they let the flavours of fresh food do the talking, so why not? I also had some lemon-infused olive oil at home, though regular olive oil would have been fine, perhaps just with a grating of fresh lemon zest at the end. As it’s National Vegetarian Week it was also nice to create a meal without using meat.

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.

I’m relieved to say that it worked just fine, though I will look into buying a pasta machine in the long run as I think you are able to get your pasta slightly thinner (it should be almost see-through) - although not having one shouldn’t deter you as my hand-rolled, hand-cut pasta actually tasted delicious. Next time I will try experimenting with beetroot to make lovely purple beetroot pasta.

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.

The pasta making was fun and I ended up with a really delicious meal – definitely superior to any shop-bought pasta though of course, you could make this recipe by using any type of pasta you fancy. I’m so pleased I did give this a go myself at home and that I had remembered everything that Katie had taught me!
Pasta with Asparagus, Goat’s Cheese & Lemon

Serves 4

Ingredients:
 
Fresh pasta (use 6 eggs and 600g of flour for four people)
OR – the best pasta you can buy if not fresh
2 bundles (500g) fresh Asparagus
4 cloves garlic
A drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil
OR plain olive oil plus a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest
140g Goat’s Cheese
A handful of  fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Method:
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!
 
 
“Buon Appetito!” – I am looking forward to seeing how every one else got on with this month’s slightly more challenging mingle!
 
Thank you Giulia for setting this challenge – it was exactly what I needed and has definitely encouraged me to experiment more and continue to make fresh pasta at home.
 

Comments

  1. mycustardpie.com says

    >Fabulous Ren – I've been trying to make pasta all month. No excuse I have pasta machine. I love doing it when I finally get round to it. Wish there was a little deli to visit for the ingredients though. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen says

    >I am really impressed by this post. This is not just the excellent pasta nor the technique, but the wonderful aromas and atmosphere you breath here. Amazing result, delicious dish and absolutely Italian taste! Congrats on the Monthly Mingle!

  3. Fabulicious Food says

    >Thank you Sally – I hope your pasta machine gets dusted off sometime soon, would love to see whay you come up with.

    Juls – thank you so much for visiting me and taking the time to write such a lovely comment. The challenge and the pasta was very enjoyable. Looking forward to the round-up. xx

  4. Shu Han says

    >Lovely photos! those tips really do help! I made my own pasta a while ago, sourdough ones! they were a lot trickier to work with but i had so much fun and eating the pasta later made it totally worthwhile (: I wish i could get a pasta machine, but right now, just being able to make my own noodles and stuffed pasta (i even use it like dumpling wrappers) is so satisfying (:

    http://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/01/fettucine-with-walnut-basil-pesto-and.html

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