Thursday, February 9, 2012

Weekend cooking - fresh pasta

The weekend's a time when I sometimes get the opportunity to cook something different or fun, a change from the quick and easy routine of weeknights. Come and see what I've been up to this weekend..

Last weekend I did two things that I haven't done in 7 years - I went to a yoga class (yay!) and made fresh pasta. I know it's been 7 years because I was pregnant with my first baby last time I did these things. And she turns 7 in a couple of months. I guess in some ways I feel like I'm at last sticking my head out of the fog (good fog, but fog never-the-less) of having very small children, and starting to enjoy a few old favourite things.

Apart from being too busy and sleep deprived, another reason I hadn't attempted homemade fresh pasta in that time is that I've only ever used recipes containing eggs, and as you may have heard me mention before, my big girl is allergic to them. But I recently did some research and found that using semolina flour, as opposed to ordinary flour, does the trick.

Commercially most pastas are made without egg, just using flour and water, but they use machines to knead the dough, and without the elasticity that the egg adds I was worried that a homemade version would be awful. But I shouldn't have worried because it turned out really well. The kids kept asking for more and we ended up eating the whole batch (no leftovers for the next day :-( I do love leftovers ;-)

And it was fun. The kids watched with interest rolling out with the dough with the pasta machine, and then they played with the scraps after dinner. Here's my trusty assistant getting to grips with the process.

I should point out here that this is not a quick and easy meal, rather a slow and leisurely activity, perfect for when you're at home on a rainy Sunday, or something like that. I use an Italian pasta machine to roll out the dough by hand, and this takes a bit of practice and confidence, but it is fun, and if you're interested I'd encourage you to try it - feel free to email me with any questions - I'm not an expert (last time was 7 years ago afterall!) but I may be able to help. You can roll out the pasta with a rolling pin instead, but I think it would be hard work as it is quite a stiff dough.

Egg-free fresh pasta

3 cups semolina flour (I used Grenoro brand)
1 tsp salt
2 tblsp olive oil
About 1 cup warm water

Mix all ingredients together to form a firm and moist but not sticky dough (you may need a little more or less flour). Knead for about 10 minutes until silky smooth. Using a strong mixer with dough hook attachment is a good option here if you get tired arms (or are lazy like me ;-). Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.

Roll out into flat sheets using a pasta machine according to the instructions, then cut into what ever shape you like. Here we've done ribbons or fettucine.

Cook in boiling salted water until al dente. This is usually just a few minutes - much less than dried pasta. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid to keep it moist.

Serve with a simple sauce. My pics show fettucine with a simple tomato sauce topped with broccolini quickly fried in olive oil and garlic (courtesy of the Mr).

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for coming out of the fog! I feel the same way. My eldest is 6.5.
    We make our own pasta sometimes too but it is quite time-consuming. Pasta ceases to become a quick easy meal when you have to make it yourself!


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