One of the finer things in life has to be an uncomplicated bowl of homemade artisan pasta covered in a tangy aromatic sauce and a glass of your favourite wine.
Have it al fresco while the sun is shining in the midst of spring and you can really truly call yourself the luckiest person on earth.
Making homemade pasta is perhaps one of those things people just DON’T DO. And I fail to see why. There’s really (trust me, really) nothing better than satisfying your soul (and your belly) with something as homely, warm and primitive as a bowl of pasta.
If someone asked me what’s the best pasta I’ve ever eaten, I wouldn’t be able to tell you (partly because I’ve eaten my fair share of it). What I can tell you, is that homemade pasta is infinite times better than dried pasta and you will know the difference instantly. You may say, “but pasta takes so long to make!”. And that’s where I would stop you, right there. I love a good misconception because it gives me the chance to shatter it right in front of you.
Case in Point
Last week I had the absolute pleasure of being taught how to hand-roll tagliolini by writer, chef and teacher Ursula Ferrigno at the Borough Market’s Cookhouse.
Amongst all the incredible stories, tips and general cooking advice, what really stuck with me was how fast I was able to make tagliolini. It was so fast, that we not only made the dough, hand rolled it and cut it but we also made gnocchi! What a win! Side note: the gnocchi were the most amazing I ever had.
So you want to make pasta?
First things first, the most important factor when it comes to pasta making is that the room you are working in must be absolutely cool. Nonni all around Italy are known for waking as early as dawn during the hotter months, to begin making fresh pasta for the day. If that’s not determination, I don’t know what is.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you might want to ditch your pasta maker. Yes! You absolutely do not need a pasta maker to make pasta. In my experience, the overall pasta-making excitement vanishes once the pasta maker makes an appearance. It’s a gorgeous piece of equipment, don’t get me wrong. But if you want fresh homemade pasta, fast, your best bet is to go with a rolling pin and lots of semolina.
Today we are sharing with you Ursula’s recipe for hand-rolled tagliolini with crab. It may not look it but this dish will change your life.
- serves 2
- for the pasta
- 100g 00 flour
- 100g fine semolina
- 2 large eggs
- splash of olive oil
- extra semolina (for rolling out the dough)
- for the sauce
- 55ml olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 shallot (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp red chilli (finely chopped)
- 275g fresh crabmeat
- 25ml dry white wine
- 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley (chopped)
- zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
1. Start by getting all your ingredients weighed and ready to use. You will need 00 flour for this recipe. 00 (doppio zero) essentially means that the flour is thinner and whiter. If you were to use regular flour or, the pasta Gods forbid, strong bread flour; you would be left with – quite literally – a stodgy pile of a mess. No one wants that.
2. Make sure your working surface is clean and you have lots of space. Tip the flour and the semolina onto your working surface and combine them lightly. Create a well in the centre with your fingers. Crack two eggs in the well and add a splash of olive oil.
3. Begin whisking the eggs vigorously with a fork, ensuring the whites are broken and everything is well mixed. Avoid incorporating any of the flour just yet. You want the egg mixture to fall in a steady stream when you pull it up with your fork. If it’s not quite there yet, keep whisking. This should only take a minute or two.
4. So your egg is beautifully combined, now what? Pile on the flours with the egg, creating height so the runny mixture doesn’t go anywhere. Either way, you want to incorporate both wet and dry ingredients with your fork until it becomes a dough. Use your hands to bring everything together nicely and begin kneading.
5. To knead your dough: Using your dominant hand, bring the fingers to your palm, exposing the base of your hand (a.k.a the carpus). You will be kneading the dough with this part of your hand and steady wrist movements.
Stand straight in front of your dough and begin kneading using your shoulder muscles. It is said that kneading dough works the veins in your arm that help provide blood flow to your heart, cool huh?
6. You will know your dough is ready when you poke it lightly and it’s springs back. It may take around 6-8 minutes of kneading to get to this stage. Once done, flatten it up slightly and cover it with cling film, then place it in the fridge for 10 minutes to rest.
7. Once again, make sure your working surface is clean and you have lots of space. Grab a bowl and place some semolina in it so you have easy access when you need it. Grab your rolling pin and let’s get this pasta rolled out! Begin by taking half the dough you made, leave the other half on the counter. Each half serves 2.
8. Sprinkle semolina on your worktop and place the first half of the dough on top. Start rolling it out making sure you have a nearly-perfect rectangle or else you will be left with really awkwardly shaped tagliolini. Quick fact, in order for noodles to qualify as “tagliolini” they ought to be 2-3 mm thick and the thickness must be less than one millimeter. This type of pasta is original from the Piemonte and Molise regions in Italy.
9. Right, from now on you will have to keep rolling this baby out and sprinkling semolina on it as you go. You may want to let one side hang off your work top to allow gravity to help you out. Then work on the other side and so on. Traditionally the sheet needs to be so thin that you should be able to “read a love letter through it” or “blow it like a silk scarf”.
10. So your pasta sheet is looking gorgeous. As you roll it out, you will begin to feel how the dough has been drying out as you stretch it, which means you get to skip the tedious step of having to hang pasta to dry.
11. Sprinkle some more semolina all over the sheet and fold the ends inwards to meet in the middle, sprinkle some more semolina over these and fold once again to meet in the middle, sprinkle more semolina and then fold again. You’ve essentially created a very sloppy palmier. Grab a sharp knife and begin cutting your tagliolini, remember, 2-3 mm thick!
12. Once you have cut your tagliolini, slide the knife under the dough and place the top edge under the middle of the dough, where the sides meet. With the blade facing down, pick up the tagliolini and shake them gently to help them unfold. Sprinkle a plate or board with semolina and place the tagliolini on it, feel free to sprinkle more semolina if needed.
13. To make the crab sauce: get all your ingredients weighed, chopped and ready to go.
14. Heat up the olive oil on a saucepan and add the chopped garlic, let it cook for a minute. Add the shallot and chilli and let it cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in the crabmeat and let it warm up. Continue by adding the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.
15. Meanwhile, bring a large pan with water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, sprinkle in a generous amount of salt. Add the tagliolini and cook for 2 minutes.
16. Drain the tagliolini and reserve some of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the lemon juice, zest and parsley (reserve some to sprinkle after serving). Add some of the pasta water if the mixture is too dry. Season with salt and pepper and serve straight away.
Ursula Ferrigno will be at the #demokitchen at Borough Market offering free cookery demonstrations every Thursday in April from 12:30 to 2pm in the Market Hall.
Visit boroughmarket.org.uk for more information.
share your creations with us on twitter @julietoyankee