Fresh pasta is at the heart of Italian cooking, and if there’s one thing that the Italians are known for, its their traditional methods of cooking it. When we think of tradition, our Grandma is no doubt at the centre of it, and it’s no different for Italians and their Nonnas!
Few home cooks make pasta from scratch nowadays, as the process is so labour intensive, but don’t you think that’s taken the magic away from the food? Just a few generations ago, Nonnas would spend hours rolling and shaping pasta and stuffing it full of delicious ingredients without even a recipe to go on; this is magic and this is what makes every family recipe that’s been handed down completely unique.
Nonna’s recipe: how to make pasta
1. Make the Dough
To make tagliatelle pasta, the recipe is simple: 1 egg per 100g of flour. Yes, believe it or not, that’s everything! No salt or water or semolina, the magic is in the kneading and the rolling.
To start making the dough, you’ll first need a very large wooden cutting board. Pour the flour on the board and make a well to place the eggs in. To mix? By hand of course! Mix the two ingredients together and knead the dough for 20 minutes. Once the dough has some elasticity, set aside for another 20 minutes.
2. Roll the Dough
Now for the labour intensive part! Once the dough is ready, using a long, wooden rolling pin, roll the dough out completely. This should take a while (it takes Nonna 15 minutes!) to get the perfect thickness on the board. Once flattened, the pasta dough is left to dry for 1 hour.
3. Cut the Dough
Cutting the dough as quick as Nonna does comes from years and years of practice to hone her skills! Once the pasta dough is dry, it is time to cut it into thin strips of tagliatelle. Yes this is also done by hand!
To start the process, fold the pasta sheet in half and then half again. Take your time cutting the sheet into thin strips and placing them in neat little portions. These are hen ready to be floured and haystacked ready to turn into delicious Italian dishes!
4. Cook and Serve
This step is just as simple as the recipe itself. Cook with a rich tomato base sauce and garnish with fresh basil leaves to finish. Buon appetito!
Nonna’s Tips: How to Make Pasta
So now you have the recipe (yes it honestly is just egg and flour!) and the treasured process, here is some advice from actual Italian Nonnas to help you perfect the pasta making process the Italian way.
1. Taste, taste and taste again!
There are no measured amounts with a Nonna recipe; flavours vary from kitchen to kitchen, so consult your tastebuds by tasting your cooking constantly and season accordingly. A true Italian adds, subtracts and substitutes whenever they see fit, so try and feel your cooking.
2. Use only high quality ingredients
By selecting the freshest vegetables and herbs, as well as home grown foods, you will ensure that your cooking has the optimum richness of flavors. Where ever possible, home grow ingredients or take a trip to the local farmer’s market!
Everybody knows that nothing beats homemade ingredients, so try to avoid buying items at the store. By simply stewing your own sauce drying out your own breadcrumbs and grating your own cheese, you can take your pasta to the next level in terms of texture and flavor!
Enjoy a gourmet dinner full of flavors in the heart of Rome with our host Arianna!
3. Saltare in Padella
The last (but definitely not least!) bit of advice is the crucial Italian cooking tip of “jumping in the pan.” Put simply, finish cooking pasta in the sauce! That’s right. Do not rinse your pasta, or even let it finish cooking for that matter. Remove the pasta from the boiling water before it reaches al dente and add it directly to the pan with the sauce. The natural starch from the pasta will allow the sauce to thicken, adhering all of the ingredients and creating those unmistakable Italian flavors!
To taste true Italian flavor without having to make the food yourself, why not join some locals for a simple family dinner?
So, there you go! The ultimate secrets of how to make pasta like a real Italian Nonna. With no pasta makers, mixers or even common seasonings in sight, Italian Nonna’s take great pleasure in the pasta making process.
As some of the best food in the world is so simple, all that is left for you to do is to discover them for yourself! Find hundreds of hosts around the world who are waiting to show you their local recipes!