Italian Cooking Class - Homemade Fresh Pasta
By: Giancarlo Di Mizio |
(Our amazing "Word Wizard" Giancarlo teaches his Italian students not just the language but also the art of pasta making. They all enjoyed a fun evening and tasty dinner! Yum!)
Fresh homemade pasta is not just a food! For many of us it is a ritual that is handed down in the family from generation to generation, it is a memory of childhood, of home, it is a moment of celebration and conviviality with one's family or friends. It is synonymous with refinement: the desire to take care of what you bring to the table and the loved ones who will eat it. Fresh pasta is the flagship of Italian gastronomy, a tradition that is part of us, of our country: you can't help but know how to make it!
Preparing fresh pasta requires time, attention and patience to obtain a pasta that has the right consistency, a pleasant roughness and a perfect cooking. The latter are fundamental requirements that distinguish and characterize a good dish of fresh homemade pasta, tasty and satisfying.
Tagliatelle, lasagna, ravioli, orecchiette or macaroni, if made at home they are much tastier! And, preparing them isn't that difficult! You only need a few ingredients that, most likely, you already have in your cupboard and some advice from Sale & Pepe!
There are many testimonies on the alleged places of origin of pasta, but it is assumed that its discovery was gradual: from a simple dough of crushed wheat and water to the invention of pasta and bread. Fresh pasta as we know it (kneading, molding and boiling) was born and developed independently along two strands: the Asian and the Mediterranean. If the origin is not certain, we all agree that the important factor, in choosing the different types of dough, is climate: if dry pasta needs air and sun, fresh pasta owes its elasticity to the humidity present in the environment.
In Italy, the preparation of fresh homemade pasta changes from North to South. In the sunny and breezy countries of central Italy and in the south, the dough is made of water and re-milled durum wheat semolina from which macaroni, orecchiette, cavatelli, bucatini, trofie and many other formats; in the northern regions, where the climate is more humid and foggy, pasta is generally homemade with soft wheat flour and eggs: pulled on a wooden surface with the help of a rolling pin, a thin sheet is embroidered; according to the width to which it is cut, you can get tagliolini, tagliatelle or fettuccine, and with the same dough you can also make lasagna, cannelloni, garganelli, bigoli, pici and stuffed pasta.
Whatever type of dough is chosen, it gives life to a wide range of pasta shapes or can be enriched with delicious fillings of meat, fish, vegetables and cheeses. Once you have rolled out and cut the dough into the shape you prefer, you can immediately cook your fresh pasta, it does not need to be dried.
To prevent fresh pasta from sticking during cooking, as can happen if you are trying your hand at preparing ravioli, just follow a simple trick and add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the cooking water. Finally, it is advisable to drain it with the help of a slotted spoon and not with the colander which could ruin the final result.
You can season fresh pasta with various sauces, from classic meat to fish or vegetable sauces of all kinds; as well as with a very simple Mediterranean dressing based on garlic and extra virgin olive oil or with butter and parmesan: no other pasta goes so well with these two ingredients! And, as always, the limit is only that of the imagination!
If you are a person attentive to the figure, you should know that 100 g of fresh pasta made with flour and water, boiled, brings 270 kilocalories, against 350 of the dry one, weighed raw; but if the dough is made with egg, it will be even more energetic! However, this is an apparent advantage. After cooking, in fact, 100 g of raw pasta becomes 215 for dry pasta and only 165 g for fresh pasta, much less satisfying in terms of volume!
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