“Why bother with a pasta machine? You’ll never use it.” – Mark
To be fair to Mark, he was almost right. Almost. The pasta machine had been relegated to the novelty shelf, gathering dust and feeling sorry for itself for a good few months. But, in my defence, that was over summer. Obviously, now that autumn is here, I’ve used it at least twice.
At the risk of stating the obvious, making fresh pasta is not strictly necessary. And when it takes driving around three or four different supermarkets before finally finding 00 pasta flour at Waitrose, you can quickly lose the motivation required. But then again, making your own pasta sauce is also unnecessary. Many who would frown upon a Dolmio dinner wouldn’t think twice about slaving over a ragu and then wasting it on limp, gluey, stodgy or tasteless tagliatelle. Just sayin.
There’s nothing wrong with dried durum wheat pasta, but good egg pasta is a little bit special. Its richer flavour requires a stronger sauce, so it isn’t a like for like replacement anyway. Making your own pasta is enjoyable in a soothing, ritualistic kind of way. It feels rustic, romantic and just the right amount of ponsey. It isn’t particularly difficult and can be particularly tasty. So here are the basics:
Making the pasta
- All you need is 00 flour, eggs and a pinch of salt – roughly one egg per 100g of flour but feel free to experiment. Also, messing around with a combo of whole eggs and yolks will change how rich the pasta is.
- You can put it all in a mixer but the authentic method of spreading a circle of flour on a flat surface, cracking eggs into a well in the middle and mixing by hand will get you loads more Instagram likes.
- Once mixed, work the dough, tearing occasionally to make sure it is even throughout. After a while, cut with a knife and check for consistency.
- Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge ready to roll and cut as required.
Rolling the Pasta
- This can be done using either a pasta machine or old-school with a rolling pin. Currently undecided as to which is cooler.
- If using a machine, gradually roll the pasta through increasingly thin settings. If using a rolling pin – roll it ‘til it’s thin. Anyone who has ever watched Masterchef knows that the only judgement ever passed on pasta is in regards to its thickness.
Cutting the Pasta (the fun part)
- Do what you like. If you have a machine, choose tagliatelle or spaghetti – if you have a knife, go nuts.
Sounds like a lot of effort, but try it. At least you save time on the cooking, which should take no longer than a few minutes. Anyway, I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t harbour a secret desire to one day present their friends with a bowl of perfect wild mushroom ravioli. Admit it.