Making pasta with Nonna Maria part 2

Making pasta with Nonna Maria part 2

Maria came over to my kitchen to show how see made pasta one sunny day last October. She was totally unfazed by the milling crowd of friends and food photographer Alessandra Spairani taking photos of her.

To make pasta, allow one egg for every 100g ’00’ soft wheat flour – and if you are making ravioli, add an extra egg. Thus to feed 8 people, Maria uses one kilo of flour and and 10 (or 11) eggs. Here is how she makes it:

She doesn’t use a bowl – at home she has a large board kept especially for making pasta dough. We improvised with a carving board turned upside down.


Next she made a bowl with the flour and cracked the eggs into the middle:


Maria used her fingers to break up the eggs and slowly incorporate the flour



It’s a messy business. The doughed start off lumpy and floury:


(Note the change of board – Maria didn’t like the plastic one) She kept kneading -aka scrunch, thump and stretch it – until the dough was silky and not at all sticky:


We then wrapped the dough in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour before rolling it out.

You could use a long rolling pin and a well floured surface – it’s just the same as rolling out pastry – but Maria is a fan of the pasta maker in a her old age.  When making it yourself remember to clear the decks before clamping it to your counter top – the dough strips become very long and unwieldy.

Maria cut the dough into large orange size pieces and flattened them. She then followed the standard procedure for using a pasta roller: start on the widest setting, pass the dough though the rollers a couple of times before turning the notch down one:


Maria kept going until she had sheets of pasta you could see her hand through:


To make tagliatelle, she rolled up the long sheet from both ends so they met in the middle to create a double roll of pasta, which she then cut and shook out:



Maria then went on to make ravioli, lasagna and passatelli – the subject of subsequent posts – and was indefatigable, a pasta making powerhouse. It was the first time that Alessandro, her grandson, and his wife Elizabetta had cooked with her and they have been inspired to do more with her – about which I’m delighted.