Making Homemade Pasta Is Easier Than You Think.

A friend invited us to supper recently and wowed us with a simple but tasty dish made with homemade pasta. As one who previously thought making pasta was pointless and difficult I was blown away and of course immediately wanted to have a go myself.

seafood pasta with homemade fettuccine

 Yes, I know you can buy pasta for literally pence but until you have tried homemade fresh pasta which takes minutes to cook you haven't really tasted pasta. Throw in some smug chef points  home cook satisfaction and you really are winning.

You need just two ingredients to make pasta- 00 flour (or plain flour if you can't get this finer grade flour)  and eggs. Other recipes suggest salt, olive oil and a variety of flavourings but fundamentally these two ingredients make great pasta. I use 300g flour and three eggs to make enough pasta for 6. Half that makes lasagne sheets for one large lasagne. Store unused dough in the freezer for 2-3 weeks.

I've always thought you had to make the dough by hand but no! You can bung ingredients into a food processor and seconds later have pasta dough. Knead briefly util you have a nice shiny ball of dough then wrap it in cling film and bung into the fridge for around half and hour (or longer) then you are good to go.

You don't need a pasta maker. You could just roll it out and cut to suit but why wouldn't you want this beautiful piece of kitchen kit.

I will say check reviews before buying. Although you can get pasta makers under £20 some don't cut well or are flimsy or don't attach well to the worktop.

My friend bought an Italian brand, Marcato, from a top notch kitchen suppliers for just over £50. It makes three types of pasta- lasagne, fettuccine and spaghetti. Imagine my unbounded delight when I found the same pasta maker for £7.99 in a charity shop a few days later! (Sorry Kaz)

Marcato pasta maker

Since then we have eaten lasagne with beautiful fresh sheets of pasta, a dish with panfried pork loin cooked with garlic and red onion laid atop fresh fettucine with green pesto and, last night, mixed seafood pasta with a tomato and chilli sauce.

fresh lasagne sheets

One unexpected bonus has been the fact that my youngest daughter loves to help me and we now have a great two-person pasta making system going. I hope she'll look back in years to come and remember these lovely kitchen-based mum/daughter sessions.

hanging fresh pasta over airer

Our main issue was where to hang the pasta before cooking it. We started off balancing brooms across worktops but it didn't feel very hygienic. My friend bought a pasta drying stand but she only has to make enough pasta for 4 normally whereas we have to make almost restaurant quantities for our larger than average family.

We came up with the solution which suits us - a ceiling mounted, vintage-style airer which has a pulley so you can drop it to worktop level to drape pasta over then pull up to the ceiling to dry or when not in use.

drying pasta over vintage style washing airer

The kit with enamelled ends, rope and cleat cost just £11.99 on eBay and we just had to add the wooden dowels at length which you choose. Obviously you have to be handy with a drill or know someone who is to fit it. I've hung rosemary and some small vintage kitchen bits and pieces off it so I think it looks nice even when not in use.

Take my word for it, making homemade pasta really doesn't take much longer than peeling a batch of potatoes. You can make in advance and freeze or make in the morning and refrigerate to use for dinner later. Some people say you can keep in the fridge for a couple of days but I found it didn't keep well for more than a day.

Don't skip the refrigeration part before using a pasta maker or rolling out as it will stick and make separating strands almost impossible.

And lastly don't overcook your fresh pasta - it will literally take a couple of minutes. Just add butter and parmesan for the simplest of suppers or go mad and experiment.

Maybe have a go at making your own roasted tomato sauce with the greenhouse glut (sprinkle wth salt, olive oil and chopped garlic and roast for an hour before blending) or add smoked salmon, sliced red onion cooked with a spoon of sugar and creme fraiche for an indulgent lunch.

tomatoes roasting for homemade pasta sauce

Buon appetito!

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