The Art of Pasta

The History of Pasta

Records of the origins of pasta can be found from the second millennium. A popular legend claims Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy following his exploration of the Far East in the late 13th century, in which pasta has been misinterpreted to have arrived from China. In the latter part of the 13th century, there is a mention of a basket of macaroni owned by a soldier. Going even further back, to the 4th century BC, there has been an argument that a tomb has similarities to the pasta-making equipment, deducing that the Italian savoury was relished in the pre-Roman days. Others counter and say pasta was a result of the Mediterranean trading in the middle ages.

Making your own pasta dough can be intimidating-but it's extremely satisfying and great fun its like playing with plasticine whether it be  a ravioli, tortellini, lasagna, cannelloni, tagliatelle,  or spaghetti once you've mastered the dough it becomes your passport to great Italian dishes.

Long John (The Crusty Veteran Master Chef)

The Art of Making Pasta

1. Pasta Dough 

Ingredients
Serves 10

Plain flour, plus extra for dusting                600g

Whole Large eggs                                              6
Egg Yolks                                                            2
Salt pinch 

Method

  1. Place the flour in a large stainless steel bowl make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Add the salt.
  2. With a fork, gently beat the eggs and incorporate the surrounding flour, gradually mixing the flour and the eggs creating a runny batter.
  3. With a scraper, take the remaining flour and bring towards the centre, incorporating it into the batter. 
  4. If the dough becomes too stiff, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.
  5. When the mixture is firm enough to form a ball, start kneading with your hands. 
  6. Flatten the ball, stretch and fold from the top towards the centre; turn 45 degrees and repeat. Knead for about 10 minutes until you get a smooth and soft dough.
  7. Shape into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Spinach Green Pasta

Ingredients

Serves 10

Eggs large                                                                        5

Egg Yolks                                                                         2
Spinach cooked                                                            80 g 
All purpose flour plus more for rolling                   800 g 
Salt                                                                            2 pinches

Method

  1. Add the eggs and cooked spinach to a blender or food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. 
  2. Attach the dough hook to a stand mixer and add the flour, salt and egg/spinach mixture. 
  3. Mix for 3-5 minutes until the mixture comes together as a ball. 
  4. Add a spoonful of water at a time if the dough is too crumbly or a spoonful of flour if the dough is too sticky. 
  5. When the dough is homogenous and smooth, wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (Alternatively you can knead by hand for 10-15 minutes). 
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, press them into flat rectangles. 
  7. Roll the dough with the pin unit it becomes translucent. 
  8. Add dust to the countertop, your hands, and the pin as required. This is a quite lengthy process requiring up to 20 minutes.
  9. Set aside, and do the same with the other pieces. Then let the dough rest for another 10 minutes.
  10. Slice the pasta into thin strips or into shapes suitable for ravioli or other types of noodles.
  11. Dust the finished noodles with flour and hang them unit they are semi-dry. Once they are partially dry, you can freeze them or store them for up to four days in the refrigerator.

3. Beetroot Pink Pasta

Method

  1. Roast one large raw beetroot in a 200c oven until it is cooked through allow to cool and remove skin and roots.
  2. Blend the beetroot in a food processor until you have a paste.
  3. Mix in the egg and salt into the puree and continue to blend until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Now follow the Green Spinach Recipe replacing the spinach with your blended beetroot paste.


4. Semolina Pasta Dough

Ingredients

Serves 10

Semolina flour plus more for rolling the dough      1 kg 

Large eggs lightly beaten                                               10 
Teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

  1. Place the flour on a  very cleaned kitchen counter and form it into the shape of a nest.
  2. In the well in the centre of the flour, add the lightly beaten eggs and the salt.
  3. Start blending the mixture together with a fork, slowly adding the flour from the outer edges of the nest into the centre until all of it is well incorporated.
  4. After the flour-egg mixture is completely incorporated, cover the counter and your hands with a sprinkling of flour. Knead the dough for approximately 15 minutes until it is about the consistency of plasticine clay.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap and chill for around 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. After chilling, plop the dough onto a clean surface dusted with semolina flour (again, to prevent sticking) and divide it into two even pieces.
  7. Sprinkle more flour on your counter and on a rolling pin. Flatten the dough ball with the rolling pin (or with a pasta machine).
  8. Roll the dough with the pin unit it becomes translucent. 
  9. Add dust to the countertop, your hands, and the pin as required. This is a quite lengthy process requiring up to 20 minutes.
  10. Set aside, and do the same with the other half. Then let the dough rest for another 10 minutes.
  11. Slice the pasta into thin strips or into shapes suitable for ravioli or other types of noodles.
  12. Dust the finished noodles with flour and hang them unit they are semi-dry. Once they are partially dry, you can freeze them or store them for up to four days in the refrigerator.

5. Squid Ink Pasta

Ingredients

Serves 10

Eggs large                                                                          5

Egg Yolks                                                                           2
Squid ink                                                                      8 tsps.
All purpose flour plus more for rolling 800 g
Salt 2 pinches

Method

  1. Add the eggs and squid ink to a blender or food processor and pulse for 10 seconds.
  2. Attach the dough hook to a stand mixer and add the flour, salt and egg/squid ink  mixture.
  3. Mix for 3-5 minutes until the mixture comes together as a ball.
  4. Add a spoonful of water at a time if the dough is too crumbly or a spoonful of flour if the dough is too sticky.
  5. When the dough is homogenous and smooth, wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (Alternatively you can knead by hand for 10-15 minutes).
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, press them into flat rectangles.
  7. Roll the dough with the pin unit it becomes translucent.
  8. Add dust to the countertop, your hands, and the pin as required. This is a quite lengthy process requiring up to 20 minutes.
  9. Set aside, and do the same with the other pieces. Then let the dough rest for another 10 minutes.
  10. Slice the pasta into thin strips or into shapes suitable for ravioli or other types of noodles.
  11. Dust the finished noodles with flour and hang them unit they are semi-dry. Once they are partially dry, you can freeze them or store them for up to four days in the refrigerator.

The Skill of Making Pasta Shapes

Making Pasta Shapes

  1. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.
  2. Take one portion flatten to 1 inch thick and roll with a large rolling pin on a floured work surface several times. Turning the dough 45 degrees and roll again several times.
  3. Keep rolling and turning until the dough reaches a consistent thickness, about 2mm thick.
  4. Cut the dough into a manageable sheet, if needed. Flour generously, then roll up loosely into a cylinder.


The Basic Shapes

Tagliolini

  1. Slice the cylinder into 3mm portions unroll the strips and toss generously in flour. Let air dry 30 minutes before cooking.

Tagliatelle

  1. Slice the cylinder into 7mm portions unroll the strips and toss generously in flour. Let air dry 30 minutes before cooking.

Pappardelle

  1. Slice the cylinder into 2.5cm portions unroll the strips and toss generously in flour. Let air dry 30 minutes before cooking.

Note: You can air dry the pasta overnight, dusting with more flour if still wet. Once completely dry it will become stiff. Store in a cardboard container or a paper bag and use within 2 days.

The Art of the Pasta Dish

Some of the following recipes are from Unilever (Knorr) using there sauce mixes, which are very good, will save time and if made up correctly will measure up to a fresh made sauces. Of course you can make and use your own sauces if you wish.

Asian Tom Yam Pasta

Ingredients
Serves 10

Penne, uncooked                                                         750 g

Unsalted Butter                                                            2 oz
Garlic Clove, chopped                                                   8
Prawn Fresh Whole                                                   250 g
Chilli Fresh sliced                                                          5
Knorr Tom Yam Paste                                               6 tsp
Lemongrass (white portion), thinly sliced
Kaffir Lime Leaf, cut into small pieces                    6
Pasta Water                                                               9 tbsp
Cooking Cream                                                         300 g
Parsley, chopped (leave some for garnish)           3 tsp

Method

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of salted water, until Al Dente. Drain, and rinse it under cold running water to stop the pasta from cooking further. Set aside.
  2. Prepare Prawns, deshelled leaving head on and tail on then cut down the length without cutting completely through to butterfly them.
  3. Heat the pan to melt half the butter. Add in chopped garlic and lightly fry until aromatic.
  4. Add in prawns and stir-fry until cooked. Set aside the prawns.
  5. With the remaining butter and garlic in the pan, add in sliced chilli.
  6. Add in tom yam paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, pasta water, and mix evenly.
  7. Pour in cooking cream, and mix gently under low heat.
  8. Add in a portion of the parsley, and mix evenly.
  9. Once the sauce is boiling, add in cooked pasta, and mix evenly.
  10. To plate, portion the pasta onto the bowl and place the prawns on top. Sprinkle some parsley as garnish.

Pasta with Mussels, Tomato and Olives

Ingredients
Serves 10

Spaghetti                                                                600 g

Olive Oil                                                                  20 g
Salt                                                                            5 g

Tomato Sauce

Shallot, chopped                                                    80 g
Garlic, chopped                                                      50 g
Celery, diced                                                          200 g
Carrots, diced                                                        200 g
Knorr Pronto Italian Tomato Sauce                   500 g
Lemon                                                                        1
Olive Oil                                                                  30 g
Clean Mussels                                                         1 kg

Plating

Parmesan Cheese                                                    20 g

English Parsley                                                          5 g
Black Olive                                                               100 g
Capers                                                                        10 g

Method

Pasta

  1. Boil the paste Al dente in water with salt until 3/4 cooked.

Tomato Sauce

  1. Roast the garlic in the oven at 150ᵒC until the garlic is puffed and soft. Chop and keep aside.
  2. Saute onion, celery and carrot in oilve oil.
  3. Add chopped roasted garlic.
  4. Add Knorr Tomato Italian Tomato Sauce and simmer for 5mins.
  5. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper.
  6. Bring the mussels into the sauce and boil until they are opening.
  7. Squeeze some lime juice.
  8. Mix with pasta and serve.

Plating

  1. Spoon the pasta and mussels in deep plate.
  2. Decorate with the olives and capers.
  3. Finish with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Minced Beef, Goat's Cheese Lasagne Roll Ups

Ingredients
Serves 10

Tomato Sauce

Cooking Oil                                                          2 tbsp

White Onion, minced                                         340 g
Garlic Cloves, minced                                            6 
Yellow Bell Peppers, diced                                170 g
Green Bell Peppers, diced                                 170 g
Ground Beef500 g
Knorr Pronto Italian Tomato Sauce               720 ml
Brown Sugar                                                       6 tbsp
Pepper to taste
Knorr Chicken Seasoning (No Added MSG)    1kg

Béchamel Sauce

Milk                                                                      400 ml

Parmesan Cheese                                                170 g

Mozzarella Cheese                                              170 g
Knorr Cream of Mushroom Soup                   480 ml

Serving

Cooked Lasagne Sheets                                     20 pc

Cheese cheddar, shredded                                340 g
Goat Cheese                                                         340 g
Parsley for garnish

Method

Tomato Sauce

  1. Set your heat to medium. In a pot, add your Cooking Oil, then sauté Onions until translucent.
  2. Toss in Bell Peppers and continue to sauté until crisp-tender.
  3. Add in Garlic and continue to stir for 3 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Then place in your Minced Beef and keep mixing, until the meat is cooked, and then add in KNORR Tomato Pronto.
  5. Season with KNORR Chicken Seasoning Powder and Pepper to taste.
  6. Place in your Brown Sugar and stir until sauce comes to a boil. 
  7. Take off heat and set aside.


Béchamel Sauce

  1. Bring heat to medium. Pour in milk and KNORR Cream Soup Base, then mix until there are few or no lumps in the sauce.
  2. Add in Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese and continue to stir until cheese has fully melted. Do not let the sauce boil.

Serving

  1. Get one cooked lasagne sheet and spread the red sauce evenly on one side of the noodle. 
  2. Add the Béchamel sauce, then top with shredded Cheddar Cheese and crumbled Goat Cheese.
  3. Carefully roll your noodle. Do not let it tear.
  4. Place finished rolls on a baking tray and bake in preheated oven at 175°C, or until the cheese has melted. 
  5. Transfer to a plate, then garnish with parsley.

1. Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients 

Serves 8

Fetuccine                                                                 500 g

Butter, divided                                                        40 g
Shrimp/Prawns, peeled                                        500g
Salt pinch
Freshly ground black pepper
Cloves garlic, minced                                               2
All-purpose flour                                                   28 g
Heavy cream                                                         225 ml
Whole milk                                                           100 ml
Egg yolk                                                                     2
Fresh grated Parmesan                                       125 g 
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Method

  1. Cook fettuccine according to the instructions on box, reserving a cup of pasta water to thicken the sauce, if needed.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon butter until melted. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook until pink and completely opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside.
  3. Into the pan, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook until no longer raw, 2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and milk, then whisk in egg yolk. Bring to a low simmer and whisk in parmesan. When cheese is melted and sauce has thickened slightly, add cooked pasta and shrimp, tossing to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Garnish with more parmesan and parsley.

2. Spaghetti Quiche

Ingredients for Spaghetti 

Serves 6 to 8

Butter, plus more for baking dish                          20 g

Spaghetti (Fresh or Packet)                                     500 g

Marinara sauce                                                        500 ml

Freshly grated Parmesan                                         125 g

Ingredients for the Quiche 

Large eggs                                                                      6

Heavy cream                                                             100 ml

Whole milk                                                                100 ml

Butter, melted                                                             40 g

Coarsely chopped                                                       25 g

Chopped fresh basil                                                    25 g

Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper 

Method

  1. Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 190c°. Generously brush a 10-inch oven-safe skillet or 10-inch pie dish with butter and set aside.
  2. Make spaghetti: Cook the pasta according to  until al dente. Drain and return to pot. 
  3. Add butter and stir until melted. Add marinara sauce and cheese and stir well. 
  4. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, without packing it down too much.

Make the quiche: 

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, butter, basil, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over spaghetti.
  2. Bake until quiche is set firm 33 to 35 minutes. 
  3. Remove from oven and place under the grill  until the top is golden, up to 5 minutes. 
  4. Let stand for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with basil and serve with a green and tomato salad 
  5. This quiche is delicious served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

​Lasagna Roll-Ups

Ingredients
Serves 6 to 12

Lasagna sheets                                                           12

Extra virgin olive oil                                               15 ml
Large onion, chopped                                                1
Cloves garlic, minced                                                 3
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
 red pepper flakes                                                    1 tsp.
Baby spinach                                                            500 g
lemon zest                                                                 1 tsp.
Ricotta                                                                       300 g
Large egg                                                                      1
Freshly grated Parmesan                                        225 g 
Marinara sauce                                                        500 ml
Mozzarella                                                                 300g

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180cº. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil and cook lasagna sheets until al dente. Drain well, then lay flat on a suitable tray.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in lemon zest and remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, stir ricotta, egg, and 1/2 of the Parmesan until combined then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread ricotta mixture onto one side of each lasagna sheet. Top with marinara sauce (not to heavily) and cooked spinach, then sprinkle with mozzarella and roll up tightly.
  5. In a large deep baking dish, spoon a layer of marinara sauce on bottom of dish. 
  6. Add the roll-ups and spoon the rest of the sauce onto each roll-up. Sprinkle more mozzarella and Parmesan over each roll up. 
  7. Bake in the oven until bubbly and the cheese as melted, about 20 minutes.
  8. Garnish with parsley and serve with a green and tomato salad.