In the Kitchen with James: Making your own Pasta

"This is cooking at its very simplest and it doesn’t get much better" - in this week's column, James talks you through making your own pasta and some simple but tasty accompaniments to go with it.

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Photo: James Fox

Making your own pasta can turn the most basic and mundane meals into pure delight. It costs pennies to make and with a bit of practice is very straightforward, elevating any pasta dish to a whole other level of impressiveness and deliciousness.

Making pasta could not be simpler. Mix 100g of flour with one egg into a rough dough. Let it relax in the fridge for half an hour. Roll it until it’s paper thin. Cut into whatever shape you want.

In fairness, the rolling part can be a bit challenging at first. Using a pasta machine is by far the easiest and most effective way. But if you don’t have one of those a rolling pin and a knife will suffice. Also note that the best flour to use is 00 grade. You should be able to get this in most supermarkets but failing that plain flour will do fine.

Once you have your pasta you can get creative. It cooks in minutes and in the meantime you can think about accompanying sauces and toppings.

Fresh pasta is so tasty in itself that you needn’t bother with complicated sauces. The purest way to appreciate the flavour is a simple drizzle of olive oil and a bit of grated parmesan – you can’t go far wrong with that.

Another dead simple topping is fresh pesto. Simply blend together equal amounts of parmesan and toasted pine nuts with a healthy amount of olive oil, loads of basil and a garlic clove.

Photo: James Fox

For a classic pomodoro sauce, fry off a small onion and a clove of garlic, add some chopped San Marzano tomatoes and cook down with plenty of basil.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine, but don’t be tempted into buying Italian wine to match the food unless you’re willing to spend the money. For a reliable and better value drop look for something like a rioja.

This is cooking at its very simplest and it doesn’t get much better.

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