Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Vicar's Kitchen - Pasta, Pronto!

Ever since my trip to Bologna last Easter my mind has been set on mastering the art of fresh pasta making. Sitting down to buttery ribbons of tagliatelle swirled with meat ragu was one of the best food experiences of my life. I savoured every last little bite. And then promptly ordered dessert!

A little while back I came across a Pasta Maker in a charity shop in my home town all the way from Italy. I wasn't really convinced that I would be able to get decent pasta out of it for a while figuring it might be a bit like bread making for me. Seems like a great idea but I am yet to produce much that I rivals anything I could just pop out and buy. It's more bullet like baps and baguettes like truncheons but hey ho!

I was delighted to discover, then, that not only is pasta making really quite fun it is also pretty easy. I went with a recipe from Antonio Carluccio's book Pasta to make some fresh lasagne sheets. This basic recipe can be used for all kinds of pasta so it is a very handy little recipe. 
All that was required was 300g of '00' Italian Pasta Flour and 3 eggs. I popped all of this into my food processor and whizzed it up till it formed a ball. I then cut the ball into slices about 2 cm thick and ran them through the pasta maker on the widest setting. This produces a lovely thin and silky sheet of what is already recognizably pasta.
You then reduce the space between the rollers and keep running the pasta through until you have your desired thinness. Then lay the sheets out on a clean tea towel, chop them to the lengths you need and you're done! All in all it took me about fifteen minutes and was really rather theraputic. Running the pasta through the machine was really quite soothing, especially when accompanied by a sing a long to Michael Buble and a glass of white wine. Ah, Sunday afternoons!
But of course the proof of the pasta is in the eating and, thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. The lasagne came out creamy and soft and lovely, lovely, lovely. All in all pasta making was a whole lot easier than I expected, much quicker and well worth it for the end result. If you fancy giving it a go, here is my Veg Lasagne recipe which showed off the fresh pasta a treat!

Vegetable, Feta and Pesto Lasagne

300g '00' Pasta Flour
3 eggs

2 aubergines
3 peppers (any colours will do)
2 courgettes
4 tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
A good sprinkling of dried oregano
500ml passata
2 tablespoons pesto
100g feta
15 (ish!) black olives chopped in half

50g butter
50g plain flour
900ml whole milk
Some parmesan to top it all off!
  • Make the Pasta as above.
  • To make the filling preheat the oven to 200 C, chop the vegetables into roughly equal chunks (about 3cm across is good). Place into a roasting tray and cover with the olive oil and oregano. Pop in the oven for about twenty minutes or until the veg is soft and browning at the edges.
  • When the veg is done pour the passata over the veg in the roasting dish and add the pesto. Give it all a good stir.
  • Make the white sauce by melting the butter and adding in the flour. Cook the resulting paste for a minute or two before gradually whisking in the milk. Bring to the boil adding a little more milk if it becomes too thick.
  • To make the lasagne layer a third of the veg on the base of a large dish and top with a third of the olive and a third of the feta. Top with sheets of lasagne. Top this will a layer of white sauce.
  • Repeat for another two layers finishing with lasagne and a good amount of white sauce. Top with the grated parmesan.
  • Pop into the oven at about 180 C for 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling nicely at the edges.

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