The secret to perfect home-made pasta

Barbara Crick making pasta at her home in Emsworth.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (120878-574)
Barbara Crick making pasta at her home in Emsworth. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120878-574)
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Have you ever wanted to serve pasta the way chefs do, freshly made and rolled straight from the machine?

It’s certainly the best way to eat the Italian staple, says cook Barbara Crick, and is sure to impress dinner guests.

Barbara, who runs Emsworth Cookery School from her own home, is pleased to note that more people want to make their pasta meals completely from scratch.

But she adds: ‘I’ve had a lot of enquiries from people about pasta making. I think a lot of people want to have a go and have bought pasta machines, which is great. But sometimes they’re left sitting at the back of the cupboard doing nothing.’

Barbara is running two day-long courses on pasta making but she’s also keen to encourage people to have a go at home.

‘I think people possibly find it a bit daunting at first but it takes practice. The mistake people commonly make it to try to make too much, say for a family of four. Just make a little bit to start with, perhaps just for two.’

She says a machine isn’t necessary – ‘you can just use a rolling pin but you have to roll it out really finely’ – but it certainly makes things easier and allows the cook to produce different types of pasta on various settings.

Machines vary in price but can be as little as £15, although Barbara says it’s usually a case of getting what you pay for as far as quality is concerned.

Of course much of the skill is in making the mix but this is a very basic ratio of 100g plain flour (or special pasta flour) to one egg and a pinch of salt.

After cracking an egg into the flour it’s a case of mixing and kneading before breaking off into sections and running it through the machine.

During Barbara’s Pasta Masterclasses, participants will be making pasta flavoured and coloured with spinach and beetroot, herb pasta, stuffed pasta and linguine, as well as some sauces.

Barbara says the rise in home pasta making is part of the trend towards making meals from the most basic ingredients. ‘People want to know exactly what’s in everything, they might want to source a local or certain type of flour. And anyway it’s just a nice thing to do. You probably wouldn’t want to make pasta after a day at work but for dinner guests it’s quite impressive.’

But she says the main reason for making fresh pasta is taste. ‘It certainly tastes different, there’s definitely more flavour, so your sauces don’t need to be quite as rich.’

· The Pasta Masterclass at Emsworth Cookery School runs on April 14 and May 19 and costs £58. All ingredients and equipment are included. Visit emsworthcookery school.co.uk

Pasta and sundried tomatoes makes a quick dish

Serves four

· Ingredients:

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Small bunch basil, torn

50g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 jar (190g) sun-dried tomato paste

150ml double cream

salt & pepper to taste

350g linguine, shop-bought or made from 2 large eggs, 200g flour and pinch of salt

· Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion. Fry until softened, add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat to simmering and add the basil, sun-dried tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste. Cook for five minutes.

3. Stir through the double cream and allow to infuse while you cook the pasta, following the packet instructions if shop bought or two to three minutes if home-made.

Recipe by Barbara Crick