I love pasta! Spaghetti, lasagna, tagliatelle… I love it all and although the dried pasta you can buy in any supermarket across Britain is very nice, there is nothing quite like fresh pasta. I recently spent a fun afternoon at the culinary school of Casa Artusi in Forlimpopoli, Italy, learning how to make fresh pasta and it is so easy.
The lesson started with a demonstration and then it was our turn to don our aprons and hair nets (not my best look!) and get stuck in. Each pair of students were assigned a volunteer to walk us through the process step by step. It was wonderful to see that Italian’s are so passionate about food, and sharing their knowledge, that local ladies regularly give up their time to help out at the school. As well as learning the correct techniques and recipe, we shared a lot of laughs.
How to make fresh pasta
- 100 g of zero zero flour
- 1 egg
How to make fresh pasta
- Pour the flour out in a mound on your work service.
- Make a crater like a volcano in the mound and crack in the eggs
- Slowly mix the flour and egg to form a dough.
- Knead the dough as shown in the video below, leaving it to stand for 15 minutes, wrapped in cling film, before rolling it out and cutting your pasta shapes.
- Zero, zero or 00 flour (sometimes known as Italian flour) is made from coarsely ground durum wheat. The same dough is used to make a multitude of pastas, a few of which are shown in the video.
How to cook fresh pasta
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil (to stop the pasta sticking).
- Add the pasta, keep the water boiling and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- Cook the pasta until it tastes right.
- This will usually be about 5 to 7 minutes depending on the shape and thickness. For really fine pasta it maybe just a couple of minutes. Don't rinse the pasta unless you are using it in a salad or keeping it to be used for later.
Which pasta with which sauce?
There are reputedly over 300 different pasta shapes, many of which have multiple names which change depending on the region of Italy you are in. It’s less crucial with fresh pastas, as they tend to soak up sauces more readily, but selecting the right pasta to serve with the right sauce is important and can make a big difference to the enjoyment of a dish.
In a nutshell, like goes with like – delicate pasta goes well with a delicate sauce, while chunky pasta goes better with a heartier, chunky sauce while thick pasta should be matched with a thick sauce.
Casa Artusi is a fabulous school offering a wide range of courses in Italian home cooking suitable for all levels of experience from beginners to professional chefs. In my experience, their classes are not just educational, they are also great fun. Visit their website for more information Casartusi.it.
The school was founded in the name of the gastronomist from Forlimpopoli, Pellegrino Artusi, known for his wonderful book ‘Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well‘. The book is a collection of recipes from all over the country first published in 1911. He travelled the country promoting his book and people started sending him recipes which he added to future editions, the last of which contained over twice as many recipes as the original. For this reason, it is now said to have been written, not simply by one person but by the people of Italy, and it is a traditional wedding gift for the bride-to-be.
I came home from Italy, not only with a copy of the book but with a new rolling pin and this board used to make garganelli. Time to try it out and impress my Italian mother-in-law-to-be perhaps… yikes!