When you think of classic Italian fare, pizza is probably the first dish that comes to mind, but we’re here to talk all things pasta – and you don’t have to go on a holiday in Italy to enjoy it! You’ll soon see that classic Italian pasta dishes can be easy, wide-ranging and incredibly tasty. Read on to broaden your culinary horizons and instantly add a few classic Italian dishes to your repertoire.
Become a pasta pro
Okay, so it might sound like a faff, but making your own pasta is actually incredibly simple, and any Italian food aficionado will tell you that nothing quite compares to freshly cooked pasta. In fact, you’ll only need two ingredients: flour and eggs. The best flour to use is Tipo ’00’ flour – 600 grams of it. You’ll also need half a dozen eggs.
Simply place your flour on a clean, flat surface and make a well in the middle, in which you can crack your six eggs. Next, beat the eggs with a fork and begin to mix the flour into the eggs. Knead the mixture until you have a big lump of dough. Continue to knead the dough until it feels smooth and silky, before wrapping it in cling film and popping it in the fridge for half an hour.
Next, take the pasta dough out of the fridge and remove the cling film. Lay it back on the flat surface, and use a rolling pin to make the dough as flat and as thin as you can.
The last thing you need to do is cut your soon to be pasta pieces. The way in which you do this will largely depend on the dish you plan to create with it. Thin, stringy pasta is best-suited to light, vegetable-based sauces, whereas thicker pasta will work well with thicker, meaty dishes.
Remember: fresh pasta doesn’t take as long to cook as regular shop-bought pasta, so keep checking on it to ensure it’s not overdone.
Get saucy with it
Here’s where it gets really exciting. There’s no end to the list of sauces that work well with pasta, so we’ve put together two very simple and very versatile suggestions that you can adapt to suit your palette…
Light as a feather: If you’re looking for a nice light dish for a summer evening, then this one is ideal. Use thin strips of pasta for this (linguine-style), and once cooked, drain them off before putting them back in the pan. Next, mix the juice of three lemons with a few tablespoons of olive oil and stir in some parmesan. Mix the sauce into the pasta and you’re free to season as desired from here. Many people like to use chopped basil and rocket, with a dose of ground black pepper.
Sensationally substantial: First of all, warm two cloves of finely chopped garlic in a pan, with two teaspoons of olive oil. Before letting them turn brown, add one large chopped onion and a small chopped green bell pepper to the mix. Allow these to soften slightly before adding 500 grams of lean beef mince. Cook until the beef has browned and the vegetables are tender, before adding two tins of plum tomatoes. To season the dish, add oregano, basil and salt and pepper, according to taste.
You see? Beautiful cooking really needn’t take a lot of effort. All you need is fresh, tasty ingredients, a lot of love, and hey presto – you’ve mastered the art of Italian cooking!
Image credit: Georgio / Flickr