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Nonna's kitchen secrets: authentic fresh pasta recipes from the Pasta Grannies

Learn the art of homemade fresh pasta from those who’ve spent a lifetime making it to perfection with these rustic Italian recipes

Nonna's kitchen secrets: authentic fresh pasta recipes from the Pasta Grannies
Marica’s strapponi with mushrooms. Photograph: Ola O Smit/Ola O Smit. Food: Beatrice Ferrante. Props: Louie Waller

Egg pasta dough

Prep 45 min
Rest 35 min
Serves 1

100g 00 or plain flour
1 x 55g egg without its shell (if your eggs are on the small side, add water or another yolk to bring it up to the right weight, if needed)

Tip the flour on to a board and use your fingers to make a well in the centre, making sure it’s not too wide nor the rim too low. Pour the egg into the welland scramble together with a fork – they are mixed sufficiently when you lift the fork and you have a homogeneous, non-clumpy looking liquid that falls smoothly from your fork. Draw a fork round the inside of the flour wall, so a small quantity of flour falls into the egg mixture. Whisk it in, smooshing any lumps, so you gradually create a batter. Repeat until you have a mixture that won’t run all over the board, then cave in the flour walls and mix in the rest of the flour with a bench scraper by scraping the flour inwards and over the batter.

Mop up any flour with your dough and give it a quick knead. If it is sticky, add a tablespoon of flour and knead again. Knead the dough for 10 minutes minimum: it should feel soft and pillowy. Think of your hands as waves: the heels of your hands push the dough away from you while your fingers pull it back. Once the dough becomes a log, turn it 90 degrees, fold it in half and continue kneading. You want to work at a brisk pace, as air is the enemy of decent pasta – it will dry it out. If the pasta feels too dry, dampen your hands with water to put moisture back into the dough. Your dough should feel silky and smooth. Put the dough in a lidded bowl, cover it to stop it from drying out, and leave the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes (or in the fridge overnight – but bring back to room temperature before you try rolling).

Cup your hands over a rolling pin so your wrists nearly touch the pasta board, and flatten the dough with a pin, turning it a few degrees at a time. When it is the size of a plate, start with your hands at hip width and roll the top third of your dough (furthest away from you) by following the curve of the circle and drawing your hands inwards as you push the pin away from you. Your hands will meet in the middle. Stop the pin before it reaches the very edge. Roll the dough four times, turn the pasta from 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock and repeat, going round the clock. To get rid of the bump of pasta in the middle, flip the outer edge of pasta over the pin, hold the pasta with one hand, and put the other hand on the dough to stop it moving. Give the pin a tug with the pasta hand to create a snug fit around the pin. Roll the dough over the pin towards you. Move your hands wider, stick your elbows out and, pressing down, roll the pasta out two or three times.

This will flatten the thicker central zone of your pasta. Finish with the pasta rolled up and turn it 90 degrees, opening it out across the board. Repeat this process until the sfoglia (the pasta sheet) is too large to move comfortably by hand. At this stage, you will need to Roll it up around the pin and turn it, as described above. Allow your pin to roll on its own across the dough to remove any air after you have turned it.

To check it’s evenly rolled, roll up a third, hold the edges (it will fall off the pin otherwise) and hold it up to the light. Darker patches mean thicker dough and that you haven’t rolled it uniformly, so you will want to go back over these areas. Leave your pasta sheet to dry on the board for five minutes.

Monica’s pasta baskets with ricotta and lemon

Monica’s pasta baskets with ricotta and lemon.

Prep 1 hr 15 min
Cook 5 min
Makes 32 (enough for 4, as a starter)

For the pasta
300g 00 flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs

For the filling
250g ricotta, drained weight
70g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Zest of 1 unwaxed large lemon

To serve
30g butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Make the egg pasta as described above. Roll it out to about 1mm thick, so you can see the board beneath it. Cut into 7cm squares – Monica has a special roller to do this, but you can use a ruler and a pastry cutter.

Combine all the ingredients to make the filling. Dot a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture into the centre of each square. Gather the four points together and firmly press the adjoining edges together to create four seams. Repeat until you have used all your filling.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a gentle canter of a simmer and lower the cestini into it with a small sieve or slotted spoon. Cook for three to four minutes.

While they are cooking, melt the butter in a small pan. When the cestini are ready, don’t drain them, but scoop them out with a sieve or slotted spoon and plate them up with a couple of spoonfuls of melted butter and a dusting of cinnamon. Allow about eight per person.

Marica’s strapponi with mushrooms (main picture above)

Prep 1 hr 15 min
Rest 1 hr
Cook 10 min
Serves 4

For the pasta
400g 00 flour or plain flour
4 eggs

For the dressing
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint (preferably nepitella)
500g fresh porcini, wild, girolle or chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
Salt

Make the egg pasta dough as described above. Once it has rested for 30 minutes, roll it out to the thickness of shortcrust pastry – aim for 2-3mm thick. Roll it up around your pin while you make the dressing.

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Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and mint, and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped mushrooms. Keep frying to soften the mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt, and add 100ml water. Let this cook off, then continue frying the mushrooms until they are golden.

Remove the garlic. Boil a large saucepan of water, salt it, and return it to the boil. Keeping the pasta rolled around your rolling pin, hold the pin above and near the water (don’t burn yourself in the steam). Pull pieces off and drop them in the water. For those of you who don’t want to brandish your rolling pin, simply tear off pasta strips/squares/odd shapes roughly the size of a credit card and then dump them into the boiling water.

Cook for two to three minutes, depending on the thickness of your pasta pieces.

Drain and add the pasta to the mushroom mixture. Give everything a good stir, toss together and serve.

Doriana’s farro tagliolini with pancetta

Prep 1 hr
Rest 35 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4

Doriana’s farro tagliolini with pancetta. Photograph: Ola O Smit

For the pasta
300g farro flour (if you can’t find any, use spelt flour)
100g 00 flour or plain flour, plus extra for rolling
4 eggs

For the pancetta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 thick rashers pancetta, sliced into matchsticks
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 red chilli, deseeded (or not if you like it fiery)
125ml glass white wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes (or fresh if it is the height of summer)
Salt
25g grated pecorino romano, plus extra to serve

Make the egg pasta dough as above, and leave your pasta sheet to dry while you make the sauce. Heat the oil in a saute pan, add the pancetta and fry briskly, until the fat has been released from the meat and it’s starting to colour. Remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving the fat behind, and put it to one side.

Add the onion and chilli to the pan and fry over a medium heat for seven minutes, or until the onion is soft. Deglaze the pan with the wine and keep frying while the alcohol evaporates. The steam from the pan should cease to smell winey. Add the tomatoes and pancetta, and give everything a good stir. Season with a pinch of salt. Let it bubble away while you slice your pasta.

Smooth your sfoglia (pasta sheet) with a little 00 flour. Roll the pasta up like a carpet and, using a cleaver or straight-bladed knife, slice across as thinly as possible to create fine ribbons. Unroll the ribbons and toss them with your hands to give them a good airing. Keep the ribbons apart to stop them from sticking.

Bring a pan of salted water to a spirited boil, and heap your pasta into the water. The tagliolini will cook quickly, in about two minutes.

Remove the chilli from the sauce. Scoop the pasta out of the pan with a slotted spoon or sieve and ladle it into the sauce. Add the grated pecorino romano, toss and serve immediately, sprinkling with more cheese if you wish.

Vanda’s cappellacci with pumpkin

Vanda’s cappellacci with pumpkin.

Prep/rest 2 hr 5 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 6

For the pasta
200g 00 or plain flour
200g finely ground semolina flour, plus extra for sprinkling
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

For the filling
Coarse sea salt
1 large pumpkin, peel on, cut into 6 large chunks, seeds removed
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
100g parmigiano reggiano, grated, plus extra to serve
Salt and black pepper

To serve
120g butter
1 handful fresh sage leaves, torn

Make the egg pasta dough as above, and leave your pasta sheet to dry while you make the sauce above and let it rest. Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan)/gas 3. Weigh out 1kg of pumpkin and keep the rest for another dish. Cover a baking tray with a layer of sea salt, put the pumpkin pieces on the tray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh is soft. Cool, then remove the peel from the pulp. Mash the pumpkin, then stir in the nutmeg and parmigiano reggiano. Make sure the cheese is thoroughly mixed in and season well. Set aside while you make the pasta.

Roll out the dough to 1mm thick – you should be able to see your hand through it. Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut 7cm squares. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each pasta square. To make a cappellaccio, fold the pasta over the filling to make a triangle. Hold one of the smaller corners between your finger and thumb and bring the opposite corner around your forefinger so the two corners meet and create the hat. Make sure the edges are firmly pressed together. Put each one on a tray covered with a cloth and sprinkle with semolina.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. In another large pan, melt the butter over a gentle heat and add the sage leaves, allowing them to crisp up.

Once the pan of water has reached a simmer, drop in the cappellacci and cook for about four minutes, before tasting one for doneness. Continue to cook for another minute or so if necessary. Drain the pasta carefully, add it to the butter and sage pan and continue to cook for another minute.

To serve, gently scoop the pasta into six bowls, dividing the buttery sauce equally between them. Scatter over extra freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and serve.

• Recipes from Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks by Vicky Bennison (Hardie Grant, £20)

Topic: #pasta #kitchen
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