I am no Italian housewife.
I live in a house with and am the wife of an Italian. But when you compare me to that beautiful image of the perfectly coiffed Italian women of the 1950s lovingly serving Michelin-quality dishes each night, I fail miserably.
I'm not heartbroken. Most modern Italian-born woman couldn't match up to their ancestors, so a rangy Australian who ate Vegemite sandwiches for three months' worth of dinners can't ever hope to.
That said, I recently mastered pasta making.
My husband, father-in-law and I have been crashing through the Maremman forests
searching for porcini mushrooms lately.
My husband's all time favourite dish is porcini pasta. He considers it such a delicacy that he has to have fresh pasta with it. So I gave it a shot.
I was surprised at how easy it is. And I'm not saying this in a Nigella Lawson, I pretend it's easy, but it's really hard, sort of way. I actually mean it's a cinch and quick too.
After three or four tries, I've even development my own recipe! Enjoy!
Fresh pasta recipe
- 450gr plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp oil
- 60ml warm water
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You could use a food processor, but I like using my fingers. Your dough will be quite crumbly, so add extra water a tablespoon at a time until it all comes together and looks like pastry dough. It's always a good idea to add less water at first because the flour and egg size are never the same.
Knead the dough for five minutes or until smooth. Cover with a bowl or plastic wrap and leave on the counter top for 20 minutes. This is the resting process and helps make your dough more elastic.
Whip out your pasta maker. We'll be starting with the two smooth rollers at the front. Set the knob to 2. That's one of the wider settings.
Divide your dough into four pieces. Dust with flour and pass through the pasta machine. Don't pull at the dough as it goes through or you'll tear it. Don't worry if it has holes or tears, that's part of the process.
Fold your dough in half, dust with a bit more flour and put it through the machine again. Fold and repeat three more times for a really smooth dough.
Readjust the pasta maker knob to 5. Pass your sheets through one at a time. Now you have perfect pasta sheets. You can use them to make lasagna, ravioli or tortelli. Or you can fold them and cut them into pasta ribbons by hand.
For my porcini pasta, I used the pasta maker again, but the middle tagliatelle roller to cut my pasta into strips. You might want to cut your pasta sheets in half width-wise before you do this or you end up with really long ribbons of pasta.
Dust your cut ribbons with flour immediately or they will stick in the pot.
Fresh pasta takes 2-3 minutes to cook in a pot of boiling water. You'll know they're ready when they float to the top.
You can use any flour you like for your pasta. I've used semolina flour and wholewheat flour to great results. You can also add squid ink or pureed spinach to the dough. Just use a bit more flour to stop it from becoming sticky.