Monday 6 June 2011

How to make…

                                                              by vintage postcards
Fresh pasta!

Before my birthday last week my friend Simone asked me what I would like as a present. I never feel comfortable answering that question but I told her I had a wish list I made to myself in Amazon. Whenever I can afford, I go back to the list and buy one of the desired items. She could choose anything from books to kitchen gadgets, but she wanted to know  what I would really love from the list. “Well, as you are really insisting”, I said, “the pasta machine would be great”.  So, a pasta machine was delivered to my house with a lovely message from her, and the following warning: “If you ever give me a pasta maker for my birthday I will enter your name into my bad books”. I, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier!

I am like a child in my kitchen right now with my pasta machine. In fact, Nina is enjoying it pretty much too.
One of the challenges I like is  to try and make from scratch things that we find as convenience food in shops these days. I want to teach Nina the importance of finding out where the food she eats come from and what ingredients go into them. I find it very rewarding.  As a member of the Slow Food movement, I pay a lot of attention to the importance of growing food slowly, cooking food slowly and eating food slowly.

Good dry pasta is widely available but, whenever I can, I am going to make my own fresh stuff. And experiment with sauces and fillings.

From now on, I am looking forward to trying all sorts of pasta with my new toy. Thank you, Simone!

put flour and eggs into a food processor
whizz it until has a texture of fresh breadcrumbs
knead it until becomes smooth and elastic

Pasta dough


200g organic pasta flour (I used Doves Farm speciality which is a mixture of wheat and durum flour) or my friend Marina Fillippeli, who wrote the delicious Fresh Italian cookbook recommends 150g Italian 00 flour or fine plain flour and 50g semola di grano duro plus extra for dusting
2 large eggs


Place the flour on a clean surface. Make a well in the centre. Put the eggs into the well and beat them. Starting from the outside, work the flour into the liquid until a dough forms. You may need to add a little lukewarm water if the dough doesn't come together. Knead for about five to eight minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. If you prefer to use the food processor (which I find it made my life much easier), Put the flour, and eggs in it and whizz until it has the texture of fresh breadcrumbs (see picture above).

Tip out on a clean work surface and knead for five to eight minutes.

Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least one hour before using. You can keep the dough for up to 24 hours in the fridge but you need to wrap it tightly in cling film (I use the non PVC cling film which is much safer for our health. You can find them in major supermarkets). 

rolling the dough
Rolling the dough

If you don’t have a  pasta machine you can use rolling pin but you will need to work extra hard to get the pasta thin.

If using a pasta machine, open the dough with a rolling pin about as thick as a pen. Open the pasta machine rollers to their widest setting and roll the dough through. Keep rolling it through, reducing width between the rollers.

Keep going until the dough has gone through the narrowest setting. You may need to cut the sheet in half if it gets too long. Rest the other half on a floured clean surface and put a damp cloth over it, while you deal with the other half.

To roll by hand, cut the dough in half and roll it half at a time on a lightly floured surface until as thin as you want it. This is hard, because the dough is so stiff like a rubber, but that is the way that some of the Italian mama's still do it. Shape to the size you want.

sautee the onions and carrots. Add labneh when carrots are cooked
cut the pasta into square and add the carrot filling
mould the pasta gently around the filling
you can cut them into squares with a knife
My fresh ravioli pasta!

Homemade ravioli of sautéed carrot, labneh and fresh basil 
Serves 4

I know you all must be tired of seeing labneh in most of my recipes lately, but as I said in my previous post, I use it a lot this time of the year and why not! (But you can use ricotta instead).The diced carrots adds a lovely texture to it. This is a light and healthy dish with plenty of flavour.

To make the ravioli filling

2 tbsp organic olive oil
1 small onion, diced in small size
1 big carrot or 2 small ones, diced in small size
1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp labneh
1 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
A squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper

For the sauce

3 knobs of organic butter
8 leaves of fresh basil
Juice of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp of the cooking water from the pasta

Make the dough, then make the past into a sheet (see picture above).

Heat the oil, fry the onion for 2 minutes. Add the add the carrots and sautée them. Add the grated ginger and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add a bit of water and let it cook until soft. Add the labneh and fresh basil. Taste for seasoning.

Cut the pasta into squares (see picture above), then brush it with a little water. Add a teaspoon of the filling to the center of each square, then fold over in half. You can cut the ravioli into squares (like the pic above) or if you can find ravioli cutters in any kitchen store.

If you are not using the ravioli straight away , store them on to a flour dusted plate or tray and keep them in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water for 4 minutes and drain. Reserve some of the cooking water. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and reserved cooking water. Season with seas salt and toss the pasta in this sauce.  

Serve straight away. Place a serving of ravioli into each bowl or plate. Spoon the sauce over the ravioli, sprinkle some fresh basil and grated parmesan over them. Enjoy!

Some of the ingredients and their functional properties

Carrot (Daucus carota): is high in carotenoid, an antioxidant compound associated with many healthy benefits. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids present in our retina), which is why carrots are famously known for being good for your eyes. The carotenoids and vitamin A contents found in carrots are fat-soluble vitamins - when eaten with a little fat (olive oil, coconut oil, ghee etc) they are better absorbed by your body. Carrots are great for juicing and often chosen as part of detox programs. They also provide good levels of vitamin K, fibre, vitamin C, biotin, vitamins B1 and B6.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): belongs to the same plant family as peppermint. It is often used in China to treat spasms of the intestinal tract, kidney diseases and poor circulation. Its oil relaxes the smooth muscle of the intestines and dilates small blood vessels. It has antibacterial activity and it is also used for prevention of worms. Basil contains powerful flavonoids (orientin and vicenin) that protect cells as well as chromosome structure against 
radiation and free radical damage.

Till next week!



  1. Humm! deve estar delicioso!!!...mas esse eu não me atrevo a fazer...vou esperar pela próxima, mas de acordo com a minha preguiça! Beijos!

  2. One of the great qualities of this blog is to make things look easy. Very inspiring.


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