Al dente – the Italian seduction

More than 20 years ago I spent a year as an au pair in Italy. At the latest at that time, I discovered my absolute love for this country and even more my passion for the Italian cuisine. With the nonna of my host family, who came from the south of Italy, I also often had the opportunity to cook together. And in any case, what belongs on the table of an Italian family? Definitely homemade pasta!

Non avere paura!

“Don’t be afraid!” – What true words in relation to pasta. The misconception that making homemade pasta is totally laborious is simply false. On the contrary: with only two ingredients, a fork and two hands, two basic foods – namely flour and eggs – come to life. Bringing maximum enjoyment. Become a tickler for the palate.

Pasta alla nonna

This is what I have been calling the classic pasta all’uovo since my time in Milan, precisely because I heard the recipe from the host nun. The ingredients are easy to remember: For every 100 grams of flour (important: soft wheat flour tipo 00!!) there is 1 egg. Nothing else. No salt, no oil. Since you can keep the finished dough wrapped in foil in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, I always make a little more dough and use it:

  • 400 grams of soft wheat flour tipo 00
  • 4 fresh eggs, large

The flour is sifted on the work surface and a small mound of flour is made. Press your fist into this mound, form a wide crater and put the 4 broken eggs into the hollow. With a fork, you slowly start to mix the eggs with the flour in a circular motion.

Carefully work the flour into the dough and the liquid mass becomes a loose dough over time. This is exactly the moment when you start working the dough with your hands. Then it is time to knead, knead and knead again. Grab the dough at the front and fold it to the middle, from left to right to the middle and again flatten with the ball of your hand. Once the dough is really smooth, form a ball and wrap it in cling film. Put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, so that the dough can rest after the kneading procedure.

Pasta machine or rolling pin

With a pasta machine it is done in no time and the dough becomes super thin and even. However, the rollers of these machines are made of steel and the surface of the pasta is actually too smooth for certain sauces. But: It is definitely the fastest way to get the finished pasta into the pot.

Traditionally, pasta is rolled out with a so-called mattarello – a traditional rolling pin that gives the pasta a rough surface and makes the sauces stick better. Working with a mattarello requires a lot of practice, and perhaps this is why it is easier to work with the pasta machine after all.

Perfectly shaped off into the pot and onto the plate

Tagliatelle, Quadrettini, Strichetti, Mafalde, Cappellacci, Garganelli, Fettuccine – there are almost innumerable variants for the processing of pasta dough. I don’t even think about the pasta ripiena, i.e. stuffed pasta – inner values are also held high in pasta production 🙂

No matter which kind of pasta you decide on – all of them have to be cooked in a pot as big as possible in plenty of salted water. The pasta needs space and the water has to bubble properly. The fresh pasta needs only a short cooking time and should always be cooked al dente – i.e. firm to the bite. Drain. Mix with Sugo. Off to the plate. Buon appetito!

If you have a real taste for freshly made pasta and don’t want to go into “production” yourself, the hotels of Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences in Italy are the best places to be. Here, the live cooking stations offer a daily variety of pasta dishes. So, let’s go to bella Italia!