I decided, for the very first time, to make my own pasta. Not the most groundbreaking decision, granted, but I rarely eat pasta, so the opportunity has never arisen.
So then came the decision of which pasta to make. Italy comprises 20 regions, each known for its distinct culinary specialty. I choose the Emilia-Romagna region, celebrated as the both the gastronomic heartland of Italy and, conveniently for me, the homeland of homemade pasta. I choose tagliatelle (a pasta originating from this region) and recreated Angela Harnett’s dough recipe, handed down from her mother who also hailed from there.
I had no plans to go down the route of sticking to the classic recipe, which uses Tipo 00 flour, but instead use wholewheat flour for my signature healthy twist.
I do not have a pasta machine, so rolled out the dough the good old-fashioned way, with a rolling pin. This was actually one up on the wine bottle that I thought I would have to resort to, but some digging around had me happen upon a rolling pin. It might be worth me pointing out that I am actually out in Barbados for a few months (sorry!), and therefore currently without my usual cooking equipment. Being in someone else’s kitchen also makes for a great excuse when things don’t turn out quite how you have billed them.
As usual, I have paired the recipe with a wine of my choosing. and song choice from one of the ‘castaways’ on Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’.
For the pasta you will need:
400g of wholewheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Mix the flour and salt together and tip onto a work surface. Make a well in the centre.
Mix together the eggs and oil and pour into the well. It will look a bit like a volcano. I called it Mount Egg-na.
Work the flour into the liquid until a dough forms. Depending on the warmth of your kitchen (mine is currently like a sauna), you may need to add a little warm water if the dough doesn’t come together.
Knead until you achieve a smooth and elastic lump of dough. It took me roughly 10 mins.
Rolling the dough and forming the tagliatelle:
You can roll your dough with a pasta rolling machine, but as I didn’t have this little luxury, I got stuck in with the rolling pin. I was forewarned that rolling pasta dough would be quite the workout on the old biceps and, given that exercise of late has mostly taken shape in the form of transferring wine from table to mouth, frankly I was looking forward to the workout. It turned out to be disappointingly easy, but this may be put down to cooking in a tropical climate, so be prepared if the UK winter temperatures make for a colder dough that does a Jane Fonda on your biceps.
Firstly, flour your work surface, then cut the dough in half. Wrap the remaining dough back in cling film.
Start rolling out the dough, turning it around to achieve an even surface. It needs to be rolled as thinly as possible and this is a lot harder than it sounds. The legendary Gennero Contaldo suggests the following tests to ascertain if the dough is ready.
- With one hand, hold up the rolled dough. Place your other hand a little way behind it. If the dough is transparent enough to see your hand behind it, it should be ready.
- Another test is to gently blow underneath the dough. If it lifts up it off the surface, it should be ready.
To form the tagliatelle, I again used Gennero Contaldo’s technique, which turned out to be a genuinely fantastico idea.
Dust the dough with a little flour. Fold over about two inches of dough, flour and repeat. This is similar to the method used when making a Swiss roll. Continue to roll and fold until you have your Swiss roll-looking dough.
Then thinly (more so than I did!) slice the dough into strips, and unfurl. Voila! Tagliatelle, just like mama used to make.
Let it rest for a minute or two then cook.
For the sauce you will need:
125 grams portabella mushrooms
125 grams crimini mushrooms
200 ml low fat crème fraiche
1 tbsp olive oil
3 finely chopped cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of capers
2 tbsp of tarragon
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
The juice of half a lemon
The grated zest of half a lemon
Heat the olive oil in a pan.
Dice the onions and garlic and add to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes.
Slice the mushrooms and add to the pan. Cook the mushrooms for about ten minutes until soft.
Add the capers, tarragon, lemon and zest, salt and pepper.
Finally stir in the creme fraiche.
Drain the tagliatelle and stir it into the sauce.
Garnish with tarragon flowers.
Normally I would immerse myself in finding the best wine possible with which to grace the recipe’s presence, and initially I had looked for wines from Emilia-Romagna. That was until I found out what wine they were famous for, or in this case, guilty of….
Lambrusco is Emilia-Romangna’s signature wine. It is, however, not mine. So at this point, I decided to flee the Emilia-Romagna region in search of a good tipple, and in the end decided to make a cocktail to celebrate my first pasta dish.
Gin is my drink du jour, and I decided to create a simple and fresh cocktail. I juiced three oranges, an apple, a lime and a thumb sized amount of fresh ginger and poured it over a very generous shot of gin.
I always choose a castaway from Desert Island Discs, and in keeping with my Italian theme, I chose castaway Antal Dorati’s choice of Joseph Haydn’s ‘The Seasons’.
This post is dedicated to Jacqueline over at Tinned Tomatoes, whose pasta competition inspired me to make my very first homemade pasta dish.