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Pasta

by . Featured in NIGELLA BITES
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Introduction

No one’s saying you have to make fresh pasta, but once you try, you’ll soon see that it’s not so difficult. I had a pasta machine for years before I was brave enough to use it; for some reason I thought it would be a performance. But I tried and it isn’t, and I rather like the mood of peaceful concentration the activity ushers forth. And it’s a great way of playing in the kitchen with children: they love turning the handle, which is actually a help, not often the case when the children are cooking with you.

Quantities are easy so long as you remember you need 1 egg per 100g of 00 flour (now available at most supermarkets), and that, on average, one ‘egg’ of pasta, as it were, feeds two generously.

I often make these Meatballs to go on top.

No one’s saying you have to make fresh pasta, but once you try, you’ll soon see that it’s not so difficult. I had a pasta machine for years before I was brave enough to use it; for some reason I thought it would be a performance. But I tried and it isn’t, and I rather like the mood of peaceful concentration the activity ushers forth. And it’s a great way of playing in the kitchen with children: they love turning the handle, which is actually a help, not often the case when the children are cooking with you.

Quantities are easy so long as you remember you need 1 egg per 100g of 00 flour (now available at most supermarkets), and that, on average, one ‘egg’ of pasta, as it were, feeds two generously.

I often make these Meatballs to go on top.

Pasta
Photo by Francesca Yorke

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 400 grams Italian type 00 flour
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2⅔ cups Italian type 00 flour
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs

Method

  1. Either put the flour (with the salt) in a bowl and crack the eggs into it, or make a mound of flour on a worktop and add the eggs to that. I don’t bother to beat them before adding them to the flour, but if you prefer to, do. Just find the way that you prefer. All you do is mix the flour and eggs together, and then knead the mixture until it all comes together in a satiny mass. Kneading involves no more than pushing the mixture away from you with the heels of your hands and then bringing it back towards you. If you’ve got an electric mixer with a dough hook, then use that, though for some reason I don’t find it makes the pasta cohere any sooner. And you don’t get the relaxing satisfaction of making it by hand.
  2. When the pasta is silky and smooth, form it into a ball, cover with a cloth and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Then get out your pasta machine, read the instructions and away you go. Two tips first: cut each slice you want to feed through the pasta machine as you go, and put through the no.1 press quite a few times, folding the strip in half and pushing it through again after each time. When the pasta dough’s been fed a few times through the no.1 slot, pass it through the remaining numbers on the gauge, before pushing it through the tagliatelle-cutters. And I find that the pasta strips cut into tagliatelle better if you leave them hanging over the table or wherever to dry a little first (10 minutes is enough).
  3. When you cook the pasta, make sure you’ve got plenty of boiling, salted water and start tasting immediately the water comes back to the boil after you’ve put the pasta in. Use about a third of the meatballs in their sauce to toss the cooked, drained pasta in and then pour the rest of them over the scantly sauced ribbons in the bowl. This is ambrosia: food to get you through the winter happily.
  1. Either put the flour (with the salt) in a bowl and crack the eggs into it, or make a mound of flour on a worktop and add the eggs to that. I don’t bother to beat them before adding them to the flour, but if you prefer to, do. Just find the way that you prefer. All you do is mix the flour and eggs together, and then knead the mixture until it all comes together in a satiny mass. Kneading involves no more than pushing the mixture away from you with the heels of your hands and then bringing it back towards you. If you’ve got an electric mixer with a dough hook, then use that, though for some reason I don’t find it makes the pasta cohere any sooner. And you don’t get the relaxing satisfaction of making it by hand.
  2. When the pasta is silky and smooth, form it into a ball, cover with a cloth and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Then get out your pasta machine, read the instructions and away you go. Two tips first: cut each slice you want to feed through the pasta machine as you go, and put through the no.1 press quite a few times, folding the strip in half and pushing it through again after each time. When the pasta dough’s been fed a few times through the no.1 slot, pass it through the remaining numbers on the gauge, before pushing it through the tagliatelle-cutters. And I find that the pasta strips cut into tagliatelle better if you leave them hanging over the table or wherever to dry a little first (10 minutes is enough).
  3. When you cook the pasta, make sure you’ve got plenty of boiling, salted water and start tasting immediately the water comes back to the boil after you’ve put the pasta in. Use about a third of the meatballs in their sauce to toss the cooked, drained pasta in and then pour the rest of them over the scantly sauced ribbons in the bowl. This is ambrosia: food to get you through the winter happily.

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