Thanks to Valdiverdura for the bright, sweet, and wonderfully scented lemons from southern Italy! They are a dream.
When she was young, Assunta took the train from the Riviera to Bologna every day during the weeks they called her to work.
The commute took a total of 4 hours, and brought her to the large area of Bologna’s fair, where she worked as a sfoglina, a pasta maker, along with other women from the same region, Emilia-Romagna. They rolled out pasta, using /-foot long rolling pins, swiftly and quickly, serving hundreds of people in a day. Whether it was tagliatelle, tortellini, ravioli, or any other kind of pasta, they could quickly roll out amounts of dough that could go up to 1,3 kg of flour and 13 eggs.
Over the years Assunta, my grandma, became a real pro.
I would never let her knowledge go to waste. Therefore, I want to make a little series of posts on fresh pasta on this blog (properly hashtagged #Hortuspastaproject), and then group this knowledge along with some recipes in an ebook.
I make my pasta with the rolling pin method, which is a little more difficult than using a pasta machine, but so much more satisfying: The wood of the pin against the wood of the pasta table produces a rough pasta that lusciously absorbs all condiments. As I prepare a video to show you how it’s done, I hope you will find this guide on making and cutting pasta useful!
1. MAKING THE DOUGH
To make this pasta, I like to use:
50 g semolina flour
100 g organic, stone-milled flour
150 g organic, stone-milled whole wheat flour
3 large eggs
(optional) 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil)
To make the dough, follow the instructions in this post.
Because not all flours are the same, they might need more or less moisture. If using regular store-bought flour, the eggs should be more than enough to hold it together. If the pasta still feels a little tough after vigorously kneading for 5 minutes, dampen your hands and knead again.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it rest for at least an hour. If you leave it longer, refrigerate it.
FLAVORING THE DOUGH
For these quantities, you can add:
~ 2 pinches powdered saffron, to make it yellow
~ A generous handful dried porcini, ground to a fine powder, to make mushroom dough
~ A small handful cooked, tightly squeezed and puréed spinach to make it green
~ 3 tablespoons chopped herbs of choice to add flavor
~ 1 tablespoon tomato paste to make it red
2. ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH
Rolling out the dough with a rolling pin cannot be explained in a blog post with pictures – it requires a video. So while I make that video (it’s in the works!!!), have a look at these:
If using a rolling pin, Peaceful Cuisine has a video in which he rolls out dough for soba, which is quite similar (except with soba you roll out the dough to 1 mm thickness, while pasta should be finer)
If using a pasta machine, Roll the dough out not too finely, so that the pasta has some bite.
I do love it to keep it on the thicker side, especially for thinner cuts like tagliolini. Roll your pasta out so that you can see through the dough, but retains a little stiffness. 1/2 mm should do.
Once you rolled out the dough, it is important to let it dry for about 30 minutes, or until it does not feel as soft to the tough anymore, but it is still easy to fold.
CUTTING TAGLIOLINI, TAGLIATELLE AND PAPPARDELLE (OR ANY OTHER LONG PASTA)
Prepare a tray with floured wax paper where you’ll let the pasta rest.
Heavily flour all of the slightly dried sfoglia and start rolling the right or left edge inwards, alternating left and right, flouring after every couple of rolls. Do not roll it tightly – it should be rather loose. Once the two edges meet in the middle, the sfoglia should look like rolled-up parchment. Generously flour the surface.
The only challenge for hand-cutting your long pasta is getting every cut of roughly the same size – but does it really matter? Irregular pasta shows that it is definitely homemade. Still, for best cutting results, use a flat, long knife, and hold it fast where the handle meets the blade. Slightly slide it on the board to cut even strands of pasta, starting crosswise from one of the rolled-up ends.
FOR TAGLIOLINI: cut 1/8 inch wide strips, and count up to 25. This makes a serving for one person. grab the cut pasta in the middle, and gently shake it to unfold it. Make a nest and move it on the tray. Repeat until you run out of dough.
FOR TAGLIATELLE: cut 1/4 inch wide strips, and count up to 20. Make each serving into a nest.
FOR PAPPARDELLE: cut 1/2 inch wide strips, and count up to 15. Make each serving into a nest.
You can do the same with other cuts of pasta: If making angel hair, cut them half the size of tagliolini, or even finer if your dough is very pliable, and count up to 30. To make lasagnette, which are thicker than tagliatelle, cut 1-inch strips of pasta and count to 8.
IF USING A PASTA MACHINE:
If you rolled you dough with a pasta machine, you will end up with long strips of dough. Cut it into manageable lengths (about – cm), and roll it up and cut it as described above.
GET THE RECIPE: Once you’ve made your own pasta and patted yourself on the back for such a satisfying result, check out this post on Mushroom and Truffle Tagliatelle and do your work some serious justice.
Herb Tagliolini with Lemon & Pecorino Sauce
This recipe is a real Italian classic, but one that I have never had or made. Tagliolini is the chosen cut for this simple, delicate lemon dressing, where the acidity of the lemon is balanced out by the round flavor of the butter and exalted by the cheese. Other herbs that go wonderfully with this pasta aside parsley are basil and a hint of fresh marjoram. It literally comes together in minutes if you have the pasta ready, and it has become one of my favorite way to enjoy fresh pasta. Just try it – it’s Italian food at its finest.
- 50 g semolina flour
- 100 g stone-milled flour
- 150 g whole wheat flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsps finely chopped parsley
- 2 tsps dried marjoram
- 2 tsps dried thyme
- 2 sage leaves
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 3 tbsps butter
- 5 shallots, finely chopped
- Zest from 1½ small organic lemons
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup milk
- Plenty of chopped parsley and grated pecorino or grana, to serve
- To make the dough, add the flours and herbs to a large bowl or a wooden board and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and oil, and knead as per recipe above.
- Let the dough rest for at least an hour before rolling out, then roll it out as per instructions above, and let dry. Cut out tagliolini shape and make nests.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and add a tablespoon of salt.
- While the water comes to a boil, make the sauce.
- Add the oil, butter and shallot to a pan and stir-fry on medium-low until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, the milk, and salt, and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Boil the tagliolini for about 3 minutes. When ready, they should float to the surface. Drain them straight into the pan, turn on the burner on medium-high and toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a couple tablespoons of pasta water to make the sauce creamy.
- Add fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese to taste, toss well, and serve.
How do you prefer your pasta? Fine or thicker? And what cut do you prefer? What would you like to see next?