Sometimes it is important to go back to basics and learn how to make certain staples. The staple that I am going to focus on here is pasta. I personally eat a lot of pasta due to its convenience; most dried pasta cooks in less than 10 minutes, which means often you can have your meal ready in 15 minutes. So why make fresh pasta? Well, firstly it tastes a lot nicer and secondly it can be a fun thing to make with friends.
Pasta is incredibly simple to make: all you need is eggs and ‘00’ flour, bring together as a dough, knead and roll out finely and you will have made pasta. All other ingredients that you add to the dough just act as flavouring for the pasta.
The key to making pasta is getting the texture of the dough right; what you are looking for is a firm but elastic dough. If the dough is too malleable and soft it will break up when it comes to rolling and you may find that the dough sticks together afterwards. If this happens, then add some more flour to the dough and restart the rolling process.
The herbs in my garden are flourishing at the moment and most weekends I make a herb pesto or salsa of sorts to keep them under control. There is no right or wrong way to make a pesto, just use the herbs that you have available and adjust to your own tastes. My preference is to make a straightforward herb pesto and add different ingredients to it depending on what I am eating. By adding a little white vinegar, gherkins and capers you get a sharper almost salsa verde type dressing to go with lamb, or If you add pine nuts and parmesan to the mix then you will have a more traditional pesto.
The herb pesto recipe makes roughly a jam jar full and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You can use herb pesto in all sorts of ways as it is particularly versatile, for example it can be used to flavour bread as below, as a dip, as a sauce for pasta or simply as an accompaniment to grilled chicken.
The herb buns are a great tear and share food to have with a barbecue or as an accompaniment to a salad. This bread recipe is simple and makes light, fluffy buns, just make sure that you do knead the bread properly at the outset until the dough springs back when you touch it and then just be patient and wait for it to rise. Enjoy!