One thing Italy has really mastered is pasta. A staple food to Italian cuisine, the first references of pasta in Italy originate from Sicily in 1154. Today, with over 1300 names floating around for all the varieties of pasta, there’s a lot of options, all of them yummy.
Handmade pasta is very easy to make – it just requires some flour, eggs, oil and lots of love.This one is for tagliatelle, a traditional first-dish pasta from Bologna. It’s shape is very similar to fettuccine, and begs for a thick sauce, whether meat or vegetarian.
If you have a pasta machine then the elbow grease required of this dish is lessened quite a bit. I use a chitarra (or a pasta guitar) so I will be rolling the pasta in the traditional fashion like the Italian nonne (grandmothers) do. If you decide to roll it out by hand, you can consider “arm-day” done this week!
Ingredients: (1 serving)
- 100g flour “0”
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pour all the flour into a mound on your counter. Make a well inside the mound and add the egg and the olive oil. Beat the egg and oil with a fork until smooth.
Use your fingertips to mix the eggs with the flour, slowly adding flour from the walls. Once everything is combined and you have a ball, knead the dough for 20 minutes. There is no secret trick to kneading the dough – just keep playing with it until you notice the dough changes from rough and lumpy to smooth and silky. Add flour as needed so that the dough doesn’t stick. Then cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
|The purpose of kneading the dough goes beyond just mixing the ingredients well. Kneading develops the gluten in the pasta. Gluten is an elastic fibre that creates the difference between soggy, floppy pasta and firm, al dente pasta.|
Now is time to roll out your dough. If you have a machine, follow the directions to run the dough through the settings, giving an increasingly thinner dough each time. I don’t use a machine, so this is how to roll the dough out using a good old-fashioned rolling pin.
Take one serving of the dough and roll it out in a vaguely rectangular shape. Keep flipping and turning the dough while rolling to make it as thin as possible. I don’t have a real heavy rolling pin so my noodles are a bit thicker, but I’m okay with that. The dough should be about the thickness of a playing card. When the noodles cook, they will thicken up a fair bit so don’t worry about making them too thin! If you can read something through the dough, it should be about right. I then place the dough over the chitarra and pass the rolling pin over it to cut it. The end result is lot of yummy pastas!
You will want to work relatively quickly since the pasta dries out rather fast. I keep the dough I’m not working with covered by the damp cloth so it doesn’t lose all of its moisture. After it is all cut, you can then either dry the pasta by hanging it, laying it flat to dry, or making little birds nests by holding ten or so strands and then twisting them up on themselves.
When it comes time to cooking them, do so just like you would regular pasta. You will notice that the texture of your homemade pasta is much nicer than the store-bought pasta. It should be springy and firm when cooked, thanks to all of that great kneading you did! Enjoy your pasta knowing you made it all yourself. 🙂