How to do Pasta
Benvenuti a tutti. The Italians have arrived. And we’re going to show you what to do with some pasta dough and some traditional moulds.
Established in Baveno on Lake Maggiore in 1920, the firm is still owned and run by the founder Italo Ottinetti’s family. And we love a family firm. They are specialists in the manufacture of aluminium cookware. And we love a specialism. Aluminium is one of the most common materials on Earth, a good thermal conductor and is recyclable over and over again. They are experts in pasta moulds and cutters.
Did Marco Polo bring pasta back to Italy from China in the 13th Century? Was there an early incarnation of a pasta machine in an Etruscan burial chamber very much earlier? Perhaps Arab traders introduced it to Southern Italy in the 8th Century. The exact orgins are unclear but pasta’s foothold in Italian cuisine, for both the rich and the poor, was very firmly established by the 1500s. Eaten plain by the poor, the aristocrats of Milan and Mantua served stuffed pastas at the Italian court. In time courtly recipes passed to the masses and filled pastas are now a staple in many regional Italian cuisines. NB (because we love a fun fact): in Northern Italy pasta is made from the widely grown soft wheat flour, containing little natural protein, so the dough is enriched with eggs. In Southern Italy protein rich durum wheat grows so no enrichment necessary.
It seems like sacrilege but we are using a pasta recipe from a Dutch cook who divides her time between Ireland and Holland.
375g pasta flour (preferablly tipo 00)
125 g durum wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 whole eggs plus 5 yolks
Knead all the ingredients patiently and thoroughly, either by hand or with a stand mixer. Cover and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour. This way the flour can fully absorb moisture and the dough will be easier to process later. In a pasta machine, roll the dough into long sheets, which can then be used in the ravioli moulds or using the ravioli cutters.
Dough Recipe from Home Made Basics
450g Baby spinach
200g Parmigiano Reggiano
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Large egg, well beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Leaves of ½ bunch sage, chopped
In a pot, cook spinach in a small amount of water until wilted. Drain well, pressing the spinach against the sides of a colander or sieve, then puree and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta, nutmeg and 70g parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Lay a sheet of pasta on the mould, place portions of the filling (depending on the size of the mould) in the indentations, brush the strips between the hollows with beaten egg, add the top layer of pasta, fresh gently to seal and use the rolling pin to cut. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until it floats to the surface (fresh egg pasta cooks very quickly). Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sage leaves and saute until crisp (about 3 minutes). Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour over the melted butter and sage and gently combine. Season with addition black pepper and the remaining parmesan.
Try any of these delicious combinations: spinach and ricotta; pumpkin with walnuts; fresh basil pesto; lobster with beurre blanc; pork with mortadella and prosciutto (not one for the veggies); three cheeses with tomato sauce.