Making pasta at home is just one of those grannies’ things. Italian grannies, that is. Most Italians, in fact, think about their grandmother as someone capable of performing cooking miracles.
Over the years, the wrinkled hands of many grandmothers have made, have refined and have passed on to other generations what today is one of the oldest and most famous Italian cooking arts in the world.
One day, I hope I will be myself the grandmother who gets up early on Sundays morning to prepare tons of fresh pasta. Then again, I don’t know really. I usually find waking up early hard and besides, Sunday is a day of rest and, furthermore, it takes a long time to make fresh pasta. It’s more likely that I will turn off the alarm clock and turn to the other side, as usual.
But not this morning. A feable beam of sunlight has entered the room through the shutters waking me up at dawn.
Outside, the fog has settled enfolding the garden like a blanket while the wet grass is glittering.
I put my boots on and holding a cup of hot tea I go out to immerse myself in the mysterious aura that this early morning holds.
It’s hard to spot the top branches of the poplars on the river banks through the fog, yet this atmosphere is very familiar to me. It can describe so well the heart of this land that has hardly changed over the years.
Winter is nearly here and I think about other mornings like this one that I didn’t see because I woke up too late.
Leaving my footprints on the ground, I go to pick up a bunch of parsley whose brilliant green colour is still thriving compare to the other plants in the garden. I want to make some pesto before the cold days will turn this wonderful green parsley yellow.
Now that the Autumn season has arrived, some young mushrooms have also appeared at the bottom of the poplars trunks. I’ve the parsley in one hand and the mushrooms in the other: it seems that even today the garden has decided for me what to bring on the table.
This is the perfect morning to spend in the kitchen surrounded by silence and to get carried away with those things that are usually too laborious to do, like making pasta, for example. But today, I’ve changed my mind because making pasta is not so tiring and time consuming, after all. Of course, my grandmother’s expert hands have nothing in common with my clumsy attempts in laying out the dough…..but I have plenty of time for being a perfect granny.
Meanwhile, try to imagine me in the act of pressing the automatic shutter release with my floured hands and then running into position to roll out some long tagliatelle from the pasta machine.
I have a long way to go yet…..but, who knows, maybe one day there will be someone else pressing the button for me, taking photos of his/her grandmother and telling of how some domestic chores that are related to food will be forever a part of their memories.
In the meantime, I play granny for one day….. here is what it takes.
If you want to have good results in making different shapes of pasta, it’s important to remember that the dough should have its own thickness and this depends on the shape you have chosen to make and the flour you have used. The rule is this:
Fine flours (00 type) = a more stretchable dough = thinner pasta
Coarse flours (wholegrain, durum wheat, buckwheat, etc.) = a less streatchable dough = thicker pasta.
To make fresh pasta at home requires good manual skills and some precautions. The most important are the following:
- You should always cover the dough you are not rolling out with a tea towel to stop it from drying.
- Remember to turn the pasta often and dust the work surface with some flour to prevent it from sticking on the surface.
- Don’t use too much flour during the making of the dough otherwise it will get too hard and lose its smoothness.
- 200 gr buckwheat flour
- 100 gr type 00 flour
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk
- A very small amount of water if necessary
- Mix the two flours together with a pinch of salt and place them on a wooden board.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, crack the eggs and the yolk into it.
- Beat the eggs sligthly with a fork and, using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating the flour a little at a time, until everything is combined.
- Knead the dough together until it's smooth and with no lumps. If it's hard to the touch, use a little bit of water to make it smoother.
- Knead the dough energetically, squashing it and streching it on the board until it's perfectly smooth and then use it to make a ball. Cover it with a dry tea towel and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
TWO WAYS OF MAKING BUCKWHEAT TAGLIATELLE
Using a rolling pin
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and start to roll it quickly and energetically, turning it often to prevent it from sticking to the surface. If during this process the dough is a bit sticky, dust it with a small amount of flour.
As the dough becomes thinner, reduce the pressure on the rolling pin or the sheet of pasta will develope air pockets. This type of dough is quite hard and coarse, therefore it should be no less than 1 millimeter thin. Cover it with a cotton cloth making sure it lies on well floured surface and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
Dust the sheet of pasta again with a little of the flour and then fold it gently into a roll that shouldn’t be too tight.
Use a sharp knife to cut the roll of pasta vertically into strips of about 1cm wide to obtain the tagliatelle.
Gently shake the tagliatelle a little to “aired” them, being very careful not to brake them. Place them on a floured tray. They are ready to be cooked straight away or you can leave them to dry.
Using a pasta machine
Cut a piece of pasta from the pasta dough and cover the rest with a tea towel or it will dry out.
Press it flat with your fingertips, flour it slightly and roll it through the wider setting of the machine. Fold it back and roll it through the machine again using all the settings of the machine until it gets to about 1mm in thickness.
Cover the sheet of pasta obtained and repeat with all the rest of the dough.
Pass the sheets of pasta through the tagliatelle cutter or cut it by hand as described above. Lay out the tagliatelle on a floured surface.
(For a portion of pasta serving 4 people / 1 jar of 150ml)
- Fresh parsley (about 100-150gr)
- 50 gr almond flour
- 50 gr grated Parmesan
- 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- A pinch of salt
1. Wash and dry the parsley leaves very well and discharge the stalks.
2. Put the leaves in the food processor with the oil and the other ingredients and blend well.
3. Drizzle over some oil to stop the top of the pesto from turning black and cover with some cling film.
It can be kept in the fridge for a few days.
POPLAR MUSHROOMS SAUCE:
- 500 gr fresh poplar mushrooms
- A bunch of fresh parsley
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Clean and rinse the mushrooms well and discharge part of the stem.
2. In a saucepan fry the chopped parsley and garlic lightly.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook them over a medium heat covered with a lid for about 15-20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes take away the lid so that the mushrooms can dry out well.
1. Bring to the boil a pot of lightly salted water and boil the tagliatelle until they are cooked; this will depend on their thickeness.
2. Drain the tagliatelle and put them into the saucepan to sauteè with the mushrooms. Add the pesto with parsley.
3. Serve topped with some sliced almonds (optional)