Pasta And Pasta-based Recipes

Pasta is the Italian word for 'dough', derived from he Latin word pasta of the same meaning. Though these days it's used as a generic term for an Italian version of noodles made from a dough of flour and water (typically durum wheat flour) that can also contain eggs and various flavourings and colourings such as cheese and spinach.

When made the dough is typically passed several times through a series of rollers that progressively thin-out the dough making it elastic. The dough is then cut or shaped into various forms which can be cooked immediately in boiling water or which can be dried for storage.

Today there are over 350 distinct kinds of Italian pasta that range from large sheets such as lasagne to tiny pasta intended for soups, such as orzo.

Below is the recipe for creating your own home-made tagliatelle (ribbon pasta) using nettles to colour and flavoure the pasta. You can substitute spinach for the nettles if desired or you can use a mix of 60ml olive oil and 40g grated Parmesan cheese or just add 60ml olive oil and more water to bind.

Nettle Tagliatelle

120ml nettle purée
360g durum wheat flour
2 eggs
generous pinch of salt
generous pinch of black pepper

Begin with the nettle purée. Take about 200g of nettle tips, add to a pan of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove to a cloth and wring until dry. Stansfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Keep 120ml and freeze the remainder for later use.
Sift the flour onto a pastry board and add the nettle puree, salt and black pepper. Mix well then form a well in the centre and break the eggs into this. Knead the dough quickly with your hands to form a smooth ball. Cover with a cloth and set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

At the end of this time divide the ball into three equal pieces and pass through the rollers of a lightly-floured pasts machine (number 3 setting) until you have obtained a smooth and elastic sheet. Now pass this sheet through the cutting blades to obtain tagliatelle that are not too wide. Spread these out onto a cloth and allow to dry at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Cooking this type of pasta is simplicity itself, just add it to a pan of well-salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes then drain and serve.

To make lasagna just cut the pasta into oblongs from the long sheet you've made.

The next recipe is for a classic Italian pasta-based soup:

Potato and Pasta Soup

25g mixed dried pasta (eg. medium Macaroni, Conchiglie, Farfalle, 5cm lengths spaghetti etc)
1 large onion, chopped
450g chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 large potato, cubed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Small amount of olive oil
Parmesan or Pecorino, finely grated

Brown the onion slightly by frying in the olive oil. Add the tinned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and potatoes together in large pot. Drain some of the water (but leave enough so that pasta is covered). Add the tomato and onion mix to the pasta and potatoes and return to a simmer. Add the grated cheese into the pot, check the seasonings and serve in soup bowls, garnished with a sprig of basil.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans runs the Celtnet Free Recipes website where you can find many hundreds of recipes for and including pasta along with hundreds of other classic Italian recipes.