Fresh Pasta With Tomato, Pepper & Herb Sauce

Jun 30th, 2010 by Gemma

Once again with the Italian food! You’d think I was obsessed or something. I’m having a week of savoury before all the sweetness that lies ahead during July.

Now, I love fresh pasta, it is truly one of the fine things in life, once you’ve had it you’ll never want to go back to dried. As a bonus, it really is relatively easy to make. The downside, unless you’re an Italian Nonna with years of practice under your belt rolling it out thin enough is a bit of a pain. This is where pasta rollers come in, an amazing kitchen gadget that is worth it’s weight in gold.

After making pasta baking in culinary school I have been lusting after a roller so I could make it at home. Only very recently have I finally got my hands on one. The day it arrived I do believe I hugged it.

Then, horror of horrors, I just didn’t have the time to make any pasta. My baby was sat there unused, thinking I didn’t love it. This Sunday finally, we were home, with no plans, I could go crazy and make all the pasta I wanted.

There are mixed reviews over what flour you should use. In culinary school it was drummed into me that you used tipo “00” flour wherever possibly, though if you really needed to you could use semolina, anything else was a crime against pasta. Now, with my dozens of recipe books, everyone says something different. Plain flour, semolina, bread flour, blends of everything, no one seems to have a definitive answer. Not able to break away from my training I bought the tipo “00” flour, but also some semolina and down the line I intend to experiment with using solely the semolina and then a blend of semolina and the tipo “00.”

My pasta recipe consists of the flour, some eggs, some egg yolks for a little extra richness, a pinch of salt and then a touch of olive oil. Again, down the line, I intend to play with flavoured pasta, spinach, herbs, tomato etc. I would love to tell you that I piled it all on the counter, like you’re supposed to, made my little volcano and brought it all together. But I didn’t, I used a bowl, far less flour ending up on the floor that way. I mixed it in the bowl until it came together and then I turned it onto the counter to knead. Try not to add any extra flour as you knead, the dough should be smooth and supple but not sticky or for that matter dry. Once it’s kneaded wrap up and leave to rest. Not in the fridge, just on the side is fine. At least half an hour, preferably a couple of hours.

While my pasta was resting I made my sauce. I’m afraid I have no recipe for this, I just threw everything together and hoped for the best.. as I tend to do with most of my savoury cooking. I started by searing off my pork chops and placing them to one side, then sautéing onions, peppers and garlic. We had a mix of all home grown peppers; bells, banana, pepperoncinis and some home smoked chipotle.  I also threw in some cherry tomatoes that we had recently harvested.

I skinned my tomatoes. You cut a cross in the bottom and throw them in boiling water, when the skins start to split take them out and put them in iced water. You can then peel the skins right off. They were roughly diced and thrown in. Some chicken stock and tomato paste bulked it out a little. Then I left it to simmer.

After about 30 minutes of simmering I added some fresh herbs and blended it all down. My pork chops were sliced and added in, then it was simmered until the pork fell apart.

Back to the pasta! It should be ready by now.

Clamp your roller to the edge of a table. Since your dough isn’t sticky  it shouldn’t stick to the roller at all, however, since we can’t wash the roller we sprinkle it with some semolina to help it not stick. Semolina is better than flour as it will brush right off without leaving any dust or residue.

Take a small amount of dough and starting with the widest setting start to roll it out. Feed it through this setting two or three times before you start to set it down a notch. There is no jumping ahead here, you have to do it notch by notch. By the time you get to the end the pasta sheet will be very long, and tissue paper thin. Some people feel that rolling it out needs two pairs of hands, it’s doable with one but you may want help your first few times until you get used to the process.

Once it’s been rolled out it can be cut. Eventually I’ll get round to doing stuffed pasta, but for now I used the tagliatelle attachment on the roller. If you’re not cooking it immediately you can twirl it into nests.

All my excess was placed onto a sheet and frozen, I can throw it straight into boiling water and it’ll still cook like fresh pasta, in just a couple of minutes.

I cooked off just what I needed for this dish, it really doesn’t take long. Then placed on a plate, I ladled some of the sauce over it and garnished with some parmesan shavings. Some friends graciously brought the garlic bread to accompany it.

RECIPE
Yields about 10-12 portions

550g Italian “00” flour
1/4tsp Salt
4 Large Eggs
6 Egg Yolks
2tbsp Olive Oil

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