A Passion for Pasta – Recipe, review and giveawaySeptember 21, 2017 by Jenny
A Passion for Pasta by Carmela Sophia Sereno now holds the coveted spot of my favorite pasta cookbook. It is not only stunning with lovely photographs throughout, but the recipes capture what homemade pasta should be – beautiful, delicious and approachable.
Carmela shares the basics from making various flavours of pasta dough (egg, chocolate, red wine and more) through and including creating elaborate striped and colored pasta – not to mention all the amazing varieties of shaped pastas.
Homemade pasta is a labor of love but not overly labor intensive. Just as the rest of you have multiple irons in the fire – this weekend I managed to work most of the day, see to the needs of my child and my other child, my husband, and still turned out homemade ravioli with a creamy walnut pesto and herby filling (recipe shared below). It blew my family and our guest away with how flavorful, fresh and delicious it was – I made at least 36 raviolis and my husband, son and our guest (a 77 year old woman) ate the remaining pieces (I do believe my friend stuffed a few into her purse to take home for later).
This title makes this Irish girl feel like an Italian. Other dishes that sparked my interest besides the recipe I’ve already tried include Italian crepes rolled in stock, a simple but elegant Lasagne sheets with melted butter, sugar and poppy seeds dish, detailed Corzetti discs with a veal ragu and hearty Bread dumplings with speck and salami. If I am being honest, all the recipes inspire me. A Passion for Pasta has it all and anyone should be able to create beautiful pasta dishes with Carmela’s wonderful instructions. (If you want to buy packaged pasta and make the recipes – I won’t tell anyone.) Carmela offers cooking classes in her UK home – more information can be found on her website.
A portion of this promotion is devoted to pasta cooking tools. The first tool I would like to highlight is the pasta machine. Of course, you can roll pasta by hand and there are Kitchen aid attachments (even pasta extruders) – but I love using the Marcato’s pasta machine – and as Carmela states in her book – it makes for a silkier consistency. For some reason, using the pasta roller and cutter by hand feels a bit more homemade than the motorized versions – although you can buy a motor for the Marcato. Carmela also suggests a broom handle but as my husband teases me – my broom gets enough of a workout from flying me about.
Another tool I am enjoying is Marcato’s ravioli tablet it is just gorgeous (see the photo above) and more sturdy than previous models. I still like to hand cut or stamp raviolis occasionally but using the tablet helps you to crank out ten ravioli at a time. I made Carmela’s recipe hand cutting the triangles for a few ravioli but the rest I made with the tablet.
A few other tools you might enjoy are the pasta wheel, also a time saver and allows the cutting of pasta and noodles of any length with nine interchangeable wheels. Also, I love Marcato’s pasta drying rack because it not only matches the other products but it is sturdy compared to some of the wooden models. Made in Italy, all Marcato products have served me well for years. Laura of Harold Imports shares a post about making ravioli that everyone should check out – turn making homemade pasta into a family affair.
Harold Imports provided me with a shiny red pasta machine and ravioli tablet to try out and are offering one of our members in the US a set of the same tools. See our giveaway at the bottom of this post for more information.
Terry Mirri of Artisanal Pasta Tools is not only one of the nicest guys you will come across but also brings a true piece of Italian craftsmanship to the world through the tools he offers on his website. Besides my love of cookbooks. French enamel cookware, and Italian copper cooking vessels (I have a problem) – I am totally crazy about hand-made tools – and Artisanal Pasta Tools has it all. I have several Corzetti pasta stamps, two Cavarola boards, and a garganelli-gnocchi board (photo also shows a fusilli shaper) and they are treasures – high quality, perform brilliantly and will last a lifetime. Watch Terry demonstrate using the garganelli-gnocchi board on this video. Terry’s passion for his work is palpable over the phone – he is a force of nature and is generously offering one of our members in the US a garganelli-gnocchi board in our giveaway below.
Special thanks to Little, Brown UK (Robinson), the publisher, for sharing the recipe I made last weekend – it is so incredibly good. The publisher is also offering three copies of Carmela’s book to our members in the UK. For members in the US, Eat Your Books is providing one copy of this book, HIC Imports is providing a Marcato pasta roller and cutter and a ravioli tablet, and lastly Artisanal Pasta Tools is providing one garganelli-gnocchi board. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.
Ligurian wild herb ravioli with a creamy walnut
Pansotti al preboggion con salsa di noci
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Preparation time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes
For the pasta dough
400g fresh egg pasta
70g Parmesan, grated
Polenta, for dusting
For the pansotti filling
300g (fresh weight) mixed herb leaves
100g Parmesan grated
1 small garlic clove, peeled and
Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to season
For the walnut pesto
130g walnuts, shelled and peeled
30g pine nuts, untoasted
1 garlic clove, peeled
60g Parmesan, grated
Small bunch of parsley, including stems
Salt and pepper to season
Basil and parsley, finely chopped
Prescinsêua is a traditional curd cheesemade in Liguria and would be used to fill the pansotti instead of ricotta.
Pansotti is another name for ravioli in the Liguria region of Italy and are triangular in shape. These pillows are filled with a mix of wild herbs called preboggion only found in Liguria. I have not had the pleasure of preparing these pansotti with the Ligurian wild herbs, so I use a combination of my own. I adore dandelion leaves and their overwhelming bitterness, combining them with spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, small oregano and marjoram leaves, chervil and basil to leave you with an aromatic taste of afresh summer meadow.
Place your mixed herbs and leaves (apart from the basil and chervil as they are too delicate) in a little water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge in ice-cold water for 60 seconds. Drain again and then place on a clean tea towel and squeeze out all the excess water.
Add the basil and chervil to the blanched herbs and chop all the herbs finely.
Place the herbs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to incorporate. Cover and chill until required (this filling can be made a day ahead if preferred).
To make the pesto, pour the milk into a bowl and add the bread. Leave to soften for 5 minutes.
Into a food processor, add the walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and parsley. Blitz for 10 seconds.
Add the softened bread and blitz for a further 10 seconds. The bread will add a delicious creaminess to the pesto.
Add a little olive oil until you reach a dropping consistency.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is a little thick don’t worry as we will also add a little pasta water to loosen it when ready. Leave the pesto out at room temperature whilst you prepare the pansotti.
Make the pansotti (ravioli) following the instructions on page 18. Set aside on a lightly dusted tray with a sprinkle of polenta to prevent sticking.
Place a large pan of water on to boil. Once bubbling, salt well and add the pansotti. Allow the pansotti to cook until al dente. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
Drain, reserving a ladle of the pasta water.
Place the pansotti in a serving dish. Add the pesto along with some of the reserved pasta water and stir.
Spoon into bowls and scatter over a little extra Parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped basil and parsley.
Making a Simple Egg Pasta Dough
Sfogline are ladies who specialise in rolling freshly made pasta dough into una sfoglia, a huge see-through sheet of pasta. Here is a quote I recently heard and wanted to share with you: ‘Sfogline are known to say that the pasta dough is ready when you hear it sing.’ To sing means you hear and also feel bubbles popping as you knead the dough with the heels of your hands. So many people are afraid of making fresh handmade pasta, but I don’t understand why. I agree that ready-made dried pasta is affordable and a great staple store-cupboard ingredient (I have more than twenty dried packets in my larder at any one time). However, a bowl of freshly handmade pasta is simply mouth-watering from the first to the very last bite. In my opinion, fresh pasta is superior to dried pasta not only in taste but also in texture and colour. When making fresh egg pasta, ’00’ soft wheat flour is used; this type has been milled to a superfine powder and is much finer than other flours. There are many different flours and flour blends that make wonderful pasta. From a nutty farro spelt flour to chestnut flour, rye flour, buck wheatflour, kamut flour and many more, as well as the much-loved ‘0’ flour and semolina flour. They each work well individually but also when blended with a ’00’ soft wheat flour.
There are a couple of general guidelines that are useful when making fresh egg pasta dough
- 100g ’00’ flour plus 1 large egg equals one portion of pasta dough. This can vary and be adjusted with different flour blends.
- For a richer dough you can use just egg yolks and omit the whites (save the whites to make a meringue or egg white omelette). 400g ’00’ flour plus 12 egg yolks makes a rich pasta dough that is perfect for ravioli etc.
Egg pasta dough
Pasta fresca fatto a mano
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400g ’00’ flour
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt (optional)
Ideally, work on a wooden or marble board but a wooden table top would work well too. I prefer to use a wooden surface as this gives a little added texture to the dough and helps in the kneading process. Tip the flour onto the board and form a well in the centre with your fingers (I call this a volcano).
Crack the eggs into the well (volcano) and add a pinch of salt. The salt is optional and if I’m honest, I generally eliminate the salt from my fresh pasta as I tend to salt the pasta water well instead.
With your fingertips or a fork gently introduce the flour to the egg mixture, being careful to not break the walls of the volcano and lose any of the egg mixture.
Form the mixture into a pliable dough. If there is any excess flour that will not incorporate into the dough, scrape it away.
Knead the dough using the heels of both hands until the dough has become smooth and silky with a light spring back when pushed with your fingertip. Kneading by hand will take around 7-10 minutes.
If the dough is a little dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water or milk; if it is too wet add a little more flour. Just remember that adding too much flour can lead to a dry and slightly denser dough.
Wrap the dough with cling film and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature.
Once the dough has rested, you can either work or roll the dough by hand using a very thin rolling pin (I use a wooden broom handle), or alternatively a pasta machine. Using a pasta machine allows the dough to become silky and guarantees a smooth finish.
However much dough you make, you must always work with it in portions when using a pasta machine. Cut the dough in half. Take the first half and wrap the remaining half in cling film to ensure the dough does not dry out and form an outer skin.
Set the pasta machine to the widest setting. Each machine will differ so please follow your manufacturer’s instructions as required.
Flatten and lightly flour the dough then feed it through the pasta machine. Fold the dough back over itself (like an envelope) and feedthrough the widest setting again at least six times. This will ensure smoothness and elasticity.
Increase a notch at a time on the machine and feed the dough through on each setting twice. There is no need to envelope the dough at this stage; you are just trying to lengthen it.
Continue rolling the dough, narrowing the rollers at every stage.
I tend to stop at the second to last thinnest section on the pasta machine. This is the appropriate thickness required for perfect pasta; you should be able to read a newspaper through the pasta sheet.
As an alternative option I also press herbs into my pasta at this stage, so if you are feeling creative have a go. Take the pasta sheet and cover half of the sheet with parsley leaves, tiny basil leaves or baby thyme or oregano leaves. Small edible flowers could also be used. Please note the leaves must be soft and stem-free otherwise the dough will rip.
Fold the plain pasta half over the herb-covered dough and push down gently using the palm of your hand, to secure. Press through the pasta machine one last time. You should be left with a sheet of beautifully decorated pasta.
The pasta sheet once rolled should be approximately 3mm in thickness.
Now choose your shape – from spaghetti, linguine, lasagne sheets, tagliatelle or a perfect base for a filled ravioli, mezzaluna, tortellini oranolini.
Instructions for making the ravioli
Cut the prepared pasta dough in half, wrap one half in cling film or a clean tea towel and roll out the remaining dough with either a pasta machine, rolling pin or broom handle to the thickness of 3mm. I prefer to use my pasta machine as I gain a silky pasta finish. Press the pasta into two large lasagna sheets approximately 15 cm wide.
Take one sheet and place individual teaspoonsful of filling across the length of one piece of dough, leaving an approximate gap of 4 cm between each mound.
Dip your finger in a little water and lightly dampen around the filling.
Place the top layer of pasta directly over the base sheet.
Gently use your hands to cup the filling between the pasta layers, removing and pushing out any excess air.
Seal the pasta by pinching around each and use a knife, pastry cutter, or shaped cutter if you prefer, to cut the ravioli into shapes.
Lay the ravioli on a tray that has been lightly dusted with polenta and use the remaining pasta in the same way to make more.
One other little idea, I would like to share with you for a possible storing solution for your pasta tools.
I found this large sewing basket at the thrift store for five dollars and turned it into a pasta basket. Some of my stamps and other things are packed away for a move so I will have more to add but I love having it all organized in one spot. I never have enough drawers or cabinet space and thought this might be nice to just tuck away in the pantry and pretty enough to leave out if necessary.
Now it is time for our giveaway. There are additional options to earn more entries: visiting Harold Imports site, Facebook page and more. Good luck!
The publisher is offering three copies
of this book to EYB Members in the UK. For members in the US, Eat
Your Books is providing one copy of this book, HIC Imports is
providing a Marcato pasta roller and cutter and a ravioli tablet,
and lastly Artisanal Pasta Tools is providing one
One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.
Which recipe in the index would you try first?
Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 31st, 2017.
Photos by Jenny Hartin (except for book cover). All links to Amazon are affiliate links and help us in our indexing efforts.
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