Basic pasta recipe


About pasta as per Wikipedia

Pasta is an unleavened dough of wheat or buckwheat flour and water, and sometimes with eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the different types of sauce. Pasta also includes varieties, such as ravioli and tortellini that are filled with other ingredients, such as ground meat or cheese. Pasta is eaten as a main meal, starter, soup or dessert.
Pasta is typical of different cultures and countries, but the most famous varieties and recipes come from Italy. There are hundreds of different shapes of pasta with at least locally recognised names. Examples include spaghetti (thin strings), macaroni (tubes or cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and lasagne (sheets). Gnocchi and spätzle are sometimes considered pasta; they are both traditional in parts of Italy.
Pasta is categorised in two basic styles: dried and fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a few days under refrigeration. Pasta is generally cooked by boiling.

The History of Pasta
Pasta is believed to have originated in China: the oldest known pasta or noodle-like food were found in China at the Qijia culture Lajia site in Qinghai province. The noodles, dated to 2000 BCE, appear to have been made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet.
In the 1st century BC writings of Horace, lagana were fine sheets of dough which were fried and were an everyday food. Writing in the 2nd century Athenaeus of Naucratis provides a recipe for lagana which he attributes to the 1st century Chrysippus of Tyana: sheets of dough made of wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavored with spices and deep-fried in oil. An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish called lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing, a possible ancestor of modern-day Lasagna. But the method of cooking these sheets of dough does not correspond to our modern definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product.
Historians have noted several lexical milestones relevant to pasta, none which change these basic characteristics. For example, the works of the 2nd century AD Greek physician Galen mention itrion, homogeneous compounds made up of flour and water. The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium, a kind of boiled dough, was common in Israel from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, A dictionary compiled by the 9th century Arab physician and lexicographer Isho bar Ali defines itriyya, the Arabic cognate, as string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking. The geographical text of Muhammad al-Idrisi, compiled for the Norman King of Sicily Roger II in 1154 mentions itriyya manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily:
West of Termini there is a delightful settlement called Trabia. Its ever-flowing streams propel a number of mills. Here there are huge buildings in the countryside where they make vast quantities of itriyya which is exported everywhere: to Calabria, to Muslim and Christian countries. Very many shiploads are sent.
Itriyya gives rise to trie in Italian, signifying long strips such as tagliatelle and trenette. One form of itriyya with a long history is laganum (plural lagana), which in Latin refers to a thin sheet of dough, and gives rise to Italian lasagna.
According to historians like Charles Perry, the Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the 5th century, the first written record of dry pasta. Durum wheat pasta was introduced by Libyian Arabs during their conquest of Sicily in the late 7th century.
In North Africa, a food similar to pasta, known as couscous, has been eaten for centuries. However, it lacks the distinguishing malleable nature of pasta, couscous being more akin to droplets of dough. At first, dry pasta was a luxury item in Italy because of high labor costs, durum wheat semolina had to be kneaded for a long time. Only after the industrial revolution in Naples, when a mechanical die process allowed for large scale production of dry pasta, did it become affordable and popular among the common people.
There is a legend of Marco Polo importing pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting the use of pasta in the United States. Marco Polo describes a food similar to "lagana" in his Travels, but he uses a term with which he was already familiar. Some historians believe that in 1295 Marco Polo brought rice flour pasta, the type used to make Chinese dumplings.
Now known as dumpling style or soft pasta, which manifested into ravioli, gnocchi and other similar preparations.
The first concrete information concerning pasta products in Italy dates from the 13th or 14th century


550g ‘00’ flour
4 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
1tblsp olive oil
Salt to taste


Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together – with a bit of work and some love and attention they’ll all bind together to give you one big, smooth lump of dough!

You can also make your dough in a food processor if you’ve got one. Just place everything in, blend until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands.

Once you’ve made your dough you need to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise your pasta will be flabby and soft when you cook it, instead of springy and al dente.

There’s no secret to kneading. You just have to work the dough hard with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, pulling it, stretching it, squashing it again. It’s quite hard work, and after a few minutes it’s easy to see why the average Italian grandmother has arms like Mike tyson! When your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, then the dough is ready. When ready wrap in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it. Make sure the cling film covers it well or it will dry out and go crusty round the edges.

How to roll your pasta

Make sure your pasta machine is clamped firmly to a clean work surface before you start (use the longest available work surface you have). Make sure your work surface is completely free, from kitchen objects, as you will need plenty of working space once you start making the pasta, and starting with a clear space to work in will make things much easier.

Dust your work surface with some ‘00’ flour, cut the pasta into 4 and press the first quarter out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting - and roll the pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you're getting nowhere, but in fact you're working the dough, and once you've folded it and fed it through the rollers a few times, you'll feel the difference. It'll be smooth as silk.

Now it's time to roll the dough out properly, working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you've got down to the narrowest setting, to give yourself a tidy sheet of pasta, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more until you've got a square piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a lovely rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides. If your dough is a little cracked at the edges, fold it in half just once, click the machine back two settings and feed it through again. If you're making pasta like tagliatelle, lasagne or stracchi you'll need to roll the pasta down to between the thickness of a beer mat and a playing card; if you're making a stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you'll need to roll it down slightly thinner or to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.

Once you've rolled your pasta the way you want it, you need to shape or cut it straight away. Pasta dries much quicker than you think, so whatever recipe you're doing, don't leave it more than a minute or two before cutting or shaping it. You can lay over a damp clean tea towel which will stop it from drying.

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