Oh dear. Four months have passed since my last post. So much for the promise to publish regularly! I apologise for my tardiness but I have been busy on my other blog (www.just-nice-things.co.uk) and I am slowly working through the list of requests from readers to post recipes. Today’s post is one of them.
At the weekend I made fresh lasagne for the first time ever. I bought a pasta machine exactly one year ago but never had the chance to take advantage of it until now.
Reviews said that once I learned to make fresh pasta, I would never go back to the dried (or even fresh version) sold in the supermarkets. I invested in an Imperia (apparently it’s the best). I also bought the recommended book for it, The Pasta Machine Cookbook by Gina Steer.
According to the book, to make basic past dough to use with the pasta machine, you will need…
- 300g (10oz) durum wheat flour/Italian ‘OO’ flour)/plain flour
- pinch of sea salt
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Put the flour and salt in a mound on a clean work surface or in a large bowl.
- Make a deep well in the flour and crack open the eggs in it.
- Mix the eggs with a fork, making sure it doesn’t spill over the edges.
- Add the oil to the eggs and gradually mix in the flour inside the well before using both hands to bring over the egg mixture.
- Once it’s come together, roll and knead it on the worktop, using the palm of your hands to press into the dough and rotate a quarter of a turn each time. This takes a bit of effort and if the mixture is too dry then add a little oil or water. The consistency should be moist but not sticky.
- Roll into a ball once smooth and cover in cling film. Then leave for 20 minutes to rest before you make the pasta.
- To make it easy tear the dough up in a few pieces and roll it about half a centimetre in thickness.
- Then feed a piece through the pasta machine, starting with the widest setting (number 6 on the Imperia). You’ll have to feed it through the rollers about 6-8 times till the dough is smooth and thin. I ran it through the widest setting (number 6) a couple of times, then adjusted it to level 2. You’ll get smooth sheets which can be sliced up to size. It is so easy and therapeutic at the same time.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave to dry for 5-10 minutes before cutting into lasagne sheets or feeding through the machine to make spaghetti or tagliatelle. If you are going to use it later, wrap loosely around your hand to form small nests and leave on a tea towel to dry before storing in an air-tight container. Fresh pasta cooks quicker than dried so adjust the time accordingly.
How did I find my first time making pasta? Mixing the dough was the hardest part and you really need a lot of elbow grease or be in a bad mood. I was convinced my dough would turn out too dry but leaving it to set for 20 minutes made the difference and rolling it out was a dream. I can’t believe how quick, easy and fun it was to make the pasta though the clamp didn’t work very well and I ended up discarding it after a few attempts.
Be warned, the entire thing takes 1-2 hours but the effort is worth it; lasagne has never tasted better. Using dried lasagne sheets sometimes leaves the edges crisp but as fresh the lasagne remains soft. I also had made enough sheets for a large dish to serve 4 people. You will need a pasta machine as I don’t think you can achieve the same results if you relentlessly use a rolling pin.
And the great thing about the pasta machine? It doesn’t need washing, just wipe with a dry cloth. A very simple gadget with superb results. I think I may be a little bit in love with my Imperia pasta machine.