Pasta. From tagliatelle to ravioli, macaroni and bakes, I’m sure everyone can agree it’s one loved food.
It’s actually pretty easy to make from scratch, as I learnt recently. But making it traditional, without the knowledge and experience of some of Italy’s best, is near impossible – how do you know?
Unfortunately, this didn’t mean a trip to Italy (I’m absolutely dying to go), but a masterclass with an enthusiastic chef who’d spent 6 months travelling Italy, eating numerous meals a day (oh the hard life), meeting authentic producers and passionate restaurant owners, absorbing everything he could. Pretty cool right?
The chef in question is actually Jon, who is one of the top chefs for development at M&S. Yes, they care a lot about delivering authenticity.
M&S has been working with the same pasta supplier in the Dolomites and a family-run sauce makers in Calabria since 1997 to help deliver authentic, tasty and simple recipes for all.
Back to the pasta making…
Well, due to time, the pasta dough was demoed and Jon whipped out “one he did earlier”, which had been resting to allow the gluten to develop/settle – stretch the pasta too early and it’ll just shrivel back to it’s original size and you don’t want that! I’ve popped the recipe for the pasta dough below…now for the fun bit.
Paired up (I got to work with one of the besties, Sweet Monday Blog), we put our pasta through the machine several times, turning the ends in like book ends, before rotating and putting through again to ensure a straight edge. We did this twice (when Jon first started out he had to do it TEN times to ensure perfect edges), before taking our pasta to it’s thinnest.
First up was pappardelle – flouring up the length of pasta, before rolling in both ends, and cutting across the rolls to form thick strands. Done.
Ravioli and Tortellini were more fiddly, so I was very proud of our little parcels. We left the pasta slightly just one turn thicker than our pappardelle, and cut circles ready to squeeze. The ravioli we filled with chopped spinach, parmesan and ricotta – taking two circles we popped some filling on one, brushed with water, placed the second pasta circle over the top and squeezed the pasta together around the filling, pushing the air out.
The Tortellini used only one circle of pasta. The filling, made with nduja paste (it’s amazing!), minced pork and parmesan, was placed to one side, we then brushed with water, and folded the pasta over the filling, squeezing into a D shape. We then added a touch of water to the corner, and brought the top and bottom edges of the D together.
It was really fun and therapeutic filling pasta. I was in my element. It really didn’t take that long either, making me realise how simple it’d be to do this at home too! It doesn’t take long to cook fresh pasta either which means there really is no excuse.
Of course we had to try our creations, so onto the eating…
Our feast looked incredible! Not only did we get to try out the pasta we made, we also got to try the new beetroot ravioli, alongside a selection of meats, and a mozzarella and tomato salad.
Our nduja tortellini was my fave. Spicy, meaty with a tomato undertone, it was a delicious pasta packed with flavour. The pasta itself, soft and delicate.
The pappardelle was served with truffle mushrooms, and was exquisite in flavour. Not really saucy, the flavour from the truffle and mushroom were potent enough to bring the fab pappardelle to life.
What I love about traditional pasta dishes, as I learnt during my masterclass, is that there is so much flavour in the pasta itself, that Italians never add lots of sauce.
The beetroot ravioli, a dish Jon played a part in developing with the pasta makers whilst out in Italy, was gentle in flavour yet really tasty! Again, not a saucy dish, the beetroot flavour was able to shine.
I couldn’t resist the parma ham and a little tomato and mozzarella salad too, and a piece of fresh bread – I think this might have topped garlic bread!
We finished up with tiramisu, which Jon also showed us how simple it was to make through a demo earlier on – the perfect end to an italian feast.
One fab evening of pasta making, and feasting. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to make your own pasta. I’m now dying to get a pasta machine. I’m armed with pasta inspiration and ready to stretch.
I also realised how much thought and planning goes into the M&S italian range. They seem to have fab some relationships with their suppliers, and really care about authenticity, and developing in partnership with those who know best.
I’ve already planned to have the Beetroot Ravioli next week, but as it’s Italian Month at M&S (pasta, sauce & side for only £5!), I think I’ll be using it as an excuse to eat plenty more Italian meals before April is out. To find out more about how to pick your pasta, M&S has written a handy guide.
Have you made pasta from scratch before? What’s your favourite pasta dish?
Pasta Dough Recipe
Serves: 4 portions of hand cut or filled pasta
Preparation time: 15 minutes + 4 hours resting
Ingredients for hand cut pasta – (i.e. the pappardelle above)
130g 00 pasta flour
4 egg yolks
Ingredients for filled pasta
130g 00 pasta flour
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
Mix the dough by incorporating the egg with the flour and work together until a rough textured
dough forms. Continue to knead the dough until its smooth and supple. Wrap in cling film and rest
for 4 hours.
*This post is in collaboration with M&S. All views my own & 100% honest.