Fresh pasta is great fun to make for everyone, even younger budding chefs will enjoy creating their own supper. We’ve gathered advice from the expert Italian cooks and chefs in the library, to help you to get started.
1 You will need…
Antonio Carluccio offers the best advice for novice pasta makers. Most people might think that making fresh pasta is a major task. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even the equipment can be reduced to an absolute minimum: all you really need is a knife, a rolling pin and a surface to work on. (You might choose to go down the pasta-machine route – that’s even quicker!) Skye Gyngell says, as we make it in fairly large quantities in the restaurant, we use a food processor; at home I enjoy making pasta by hand.
2 Choose your recipe
There are two types of fresh pasta recipes. You can make an egg-free pasta or one with eggs, which gives a slightly richer end result. Mammissima Author Elizabetta Minervini says of the egg version, ‘I usually make it on Sundays and special occasions – it also cooks slightly more quickly.’ Why not get to grips with Elizabetta’s foolproof Homemade pasta recipe when you next have a free Sunday?
3 Make your dough
Some chefs use a bowl for dough-making, others build a volcano-shaped mound on the worksurface, with a dip in the centre, for the liquid. Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi use the bowl method, Katie starts with a table knife to gradually make a paste, then suggests using the fingertips of one hand to incorporate any remaining liquid together until you have a ball of dough. Try to squash all the crumbs of dough into the ball, but discard any that don’t make it.
4 Perfect your kneading technique
Just like bread-making there is a key to making your dough pliable enough to roll out. Katie Caldesi: kneads the dough by flattening and folding it around for 5-7 minutes, adding a little more flour if it is very sticky. Do this until it stops sticking to your hand. The dough should form a soft but firm ball that bounces back to the touch when prodded. And just like with bread-making they’ve perfected a gluten-free recipe, which works in just the same way.
5 Get ready to roll
Pasta for ravioli should be as thin as you can make it, so when you hold it up, you can see your hand through it,’ says head chef Lello Favuzzi of acclaimed London restaurant L’Anima. ‘But pasta dough for pappardelle, fettuccine and spaghetti can be thicker. If you don’t have a machine, just roll it as thinly as possible and make “rag” pasta (pasta dough cut into rough shapes). It’s just as good.
6 Rest your pasta
Elisabetta Minervini always dusts her flour on both sides of fresh pasta and leaves it to dry on clean tea towels for 25-30 minutes before using. Gill Mellor hangs the lengths over the back of a chair when making pappardelle, while he rolls and cuts the remaining dough. And Antonio Carluccio’s advice is handy for making filled pasta. He says, go right ahead and incorporate the filling, while the pasta is still malleable. This is better than leaving the cut pieces for a while, when a moist filling might seep through the pasta or indeed perforate it.
7 Store your fresh pasta
If you get carried away and make more pasta than you need in one sitting, Carluccio suggests; cut the pasta into whatever shapes you want, leave it to dry completely on a tea towel or a lightly floured surface, then pack it very carefully into an airtight bag or container. Wind long strands, such as tagliatelle inot nests while the pasta is still pliable. The pasta will keep in the fridge for two to three days, or you can freeze it for up to six months. If freezing, wrap in clingfilm or foil first, then defrost in the normal way (not in a microwave).