Friday, 17 October 2008

A Mess to Impress: Zero Waste Pasta

Given the choice, with hungry kids having just arrived home from school would you...

a) open up a packet of tagliatelle and throw it in a pan of boiling water and serve up tea within 10 minutes or

b) Optimistically open up a packet of grade 00 flour?

Crack open a few eggs and spend 5 minutes mixing together and kneading to make a dough.

Set up the pasta maker during the 15 minutes of rest, wondering whether it's you that needs the rest as well as the dough.

Unable to clamp the pasta maker to the worktop due to lack of space, you become a circus grade contortionist, with one hand turning the handle, the other feeding the dough through the drum and your wrist firmly placed on the top to stop the blimmin' thing from falling on the kitchen floor.

Then feel forever thankful that your husband arrives home just in time to physically hold the pasta maker in place, while your four-year-old joins in the the fun-of-the-fair and cranks the handle, leaving both your hands free to feed the pasta into the drum, rolling it through once, folding and flouring, rolling it through for a second time, folding and flouring, adjusting the setting and rolling it through a narrower setting, and narrower and narrower...

...and narrower setting, for each piece of dough, which you then have to leave for 10 minutes before you cut the pasta in shape and cook.

FINALLY 5 minutes later you all sit down to a fine dish of home-made tagliatelle, whilst falling off your chair in shock that you really have made fresh pasta.... that really tastes like fresh pasta.

I bet you'd choose Option A wouldn't you! And I don't blame you. But I dare you to try option B. Go on, it might have sounded a lot of trouble, but in a dysfunctional and extraordinary way I actually enjoyed it.

And I am utterly amazed by what you can make with just eggs and flour. Italian grade 00 is the best flour to use but you can use plain flour.

But before you go rushing out to get your very own pasta maker, make sure you read the advice below:


1) Home-made pasta is definitely cheaper than shop-bought if you overlook the £37 pounds spent on a pasta maker.

2) You don't really need a pasta maker if you're just interested in making lasagne sheets, or have great control of the knife to cut thin strips of tagliatelle. Simply mix the eggs and flour and knead the mixture into a dough. Cover and leave it to rest for 15 minutes and then roll the dough very thinly. You will need a some patience for this bit because it does need to be thin, as you'll see from the recipe here.

3) If you're going to use a pasta maker, you really do need to fix the solid lump of metal to your worktop. Next time, I'll make it at the dining table, where I can attach the clamp.

4) Finally you'll need an equal amount of time to match your levels of enthusiasm. It does feel an effort to make it all in one go, especially if you're in a hurry but next time I'll make it in different stages throughout the day.

So after all this effort I suppose the big question is....will I repeat this process regularly?

Well, I'm going to have to. Mr A, is keeping a close eye on things, insisting that I rake the money back. He really does wear the trousers you know! If someone had only answered my ad on Freecycle.

So, pasta three times a week, to feed a family of four...

hmm...that'll take me about a year then!

But after that, we'll be far as the pasta's concerned.

However I think I might just be in need of therapy!



Mike Charlton said...

Seriously brilliant! You rock! This is such a great way to cut down waste it isn't even funny. You get fantastic food, interesting culture and the whole family works together to rescue dinner. How could it be any better?

But for others who might be wanting to try it and don't have a pasta maker, please give it a go. It isn't as hard as you might imagine. Here's a few tips: Using a long dowel or broomstick handle is easier for rolling than one of those spinning rolling pins. Use lots of flour when rolling, making sure to throw some under the dough from time to time. When it is thin enough, you can wait a few minutes for it to dry a little and then roll it up. That way you can cut it faster. You can even make linguine pretty easily (but you should hang them on something (the broomstick is handy) or else they will stick together.

Oh, and the dining table is *always* the place I make pasta. For some reason you always need lots of room. If you bolt the pasta maker to the table, make sure to put a couple of pieces of thin wood on the top and bottom of the table, between the clamp, or else you can mark the table (from sad experience).

You've inspired me! And since it is dinner time and I'm inspired, it's fresh pasta tonight!

Mrs Green said...

**bows down at feet**

Oh Good lord, I am going back to bed. Mrs A, I feel we have been secretly competing with one another for kitchen Goddess status this week, but I can safely say you have won.

I would open the ready made shop-bought pasta and throw the bag in the bin after use LOL!

Enjoy dinner, Mike!

Mrs G x

Eliane said...

I too have a pasta machine and it doesn't come out very often but it's great fun when it does. You barely need any sauce as the pasta tastes so fantastic on its own. But you do need lots of space and you need not to mind about the mess. I reckon though that if I practiced maybe it wouldn't be such a faff. I just haven't quite got the balance right yet, so each time I do it it's like learning to ride a bike all over again.

My favourite so far is to add pureed beetroot to it - pink pasta that tastes fantastic. The girls loved it. Almost as much fun as making it in the first place.

Danda said...

My dear Mrs. A.,
How can I resist the temptation to write a comment on homemade pasta?
'Bravissima'! Of course you chose a less favorable time to prepare it!
Unfortunately, the homemade pasta, here in Italy, is a tradition that goes losing and it is usually a dish that is still only on celebration days at the table.
If you think that I have never grappled more with the making of tagliatelle since I was younger and played with my little sister's toy-pasta maker!
Now that I moved in Romagna, the realm of homemade pasta, I have to make it! Fortunately, there is the elderly aunt of my partner, who lives on the second floor of our house, that makes it – at the age of 83 – and sometimes she gives a good quantity to us! I can learn from her! And then there is also a very clever blogger who knows you, and we estimate, that is a great cook/housewife and would export her recipes abroad!
By the way, she is there, in the previous post that you commented on my blog, her name is Cristella, and she made you a compliment!
You're so brave! You must go on!
Danda xxx

p.s.: @Mike's suggestion to make pasta rolling dough on a big table and then cutting it rolled, is the way we use still here. I saw it and I can say that's the best way to do tagliatelle ;-)

esther said...

homemade is always the nicest, anyway, just need some time (and optimism, lol)

katyboo1 said...

I made some with the kids a couple of years ago and it was a total nightmare! Me and two small, very helpful children. It took me about three hours to clean the kitchen and we made about fourteen strips of what looked like knicker elastic which had been rolled in chimney sweepings! It was fun for the first twenty minutes and then I wanted to kill myself.

I love the idea of it, but would only want to make it again when the children were at school. I would like to make it with the children again, just not when I was in a hurry to actually eat anything.

You are very brave.


LOL what a fab set of comments to wake up to on a Saturday morning ;-D

Hi Mike - Great to see you over here and thank you so much for your invaluable advice. I'll most definitely move my pasta "skills" into the dining room this weekend, as I would definitely appreciate the extra space. The amount of workspace in my kitchen was literally relative to the size of the pasta maker. Thanks for helping out this particular novice, please do come back and share any other tips that come to mind ;-D
P.S. I think you might have just saved my table.

Hi Mrs G - LOL. I'm not sure about the Kitchen Goddess, more like mad scientist let loose in the kitchen with overambitious plans to avoid the supermarket. Perhaps Mr A will now build me a windmill in the garden so I can mill my own flour LOL. Now there's an idea. My poor kids though, looking longingly at the packet of spaghetti on the shelf were completely bemused by the determination to make the fresh stuff ;-D

Hi Eliane - I think it most definitely seems that practice is the key. And you're right about the sauce. The sauce I used was the leftover tomato soup from the weekend with a few chicken pieces thrown in. I love the idea about the beetroot colouring. Pink pasta sounds great! By the way, I hope your ears weren't burning the other day, because I was talking about you to my great friend Ruby (aka Christina). Most wonderful coincidence, in that she knows you. Apparently you gave her some great advice about 12 years ago. The intriguing world of blogging eh ;-D

Hi Danda - thank you,it's great to have authentic advice from all the way over in Italy. And what a pity the tradition of making pasta is falling by the wayside. Understandable though if people are living such busy lives, but good on you for having the get-up-and-do to make it. It must be a real privilege to have an older aunt so close. I firmly believe that seeing these skills in action preserves traditions for passing down the family. Even if it's restricted for celebrations. By the way, a big "Hi" to Cristella - I'm going to come on over to say a proper hello soon :-D

Hi Esther - so succinctly put and right on both counts. The only thing I'd had is a constant supply of eggs. LOL :-D

Hi Katyboo - I love your way with words and knicker elastic is always one of those descriptions that can reduce me to teenage giggles. I'm now wondering whether I should have started making tagliatelle as a student to hold up the knickers that my mum used to get off the market. They were a bit of a standing joke for the 5 consecutive Christmasses. I'm just glad she got the hint and am even more glad you survived your own pasta making experience. And remember, if you make some pasta now, it'll be ready for in time for dinner LOL... ;-D

just Gai said...

Well done Mrs A
I remember my one an only attempt at making pasta. It was many moons ago - pre children! - in the days when I would happily spend the better part of a day preparing a special meal for friends. I made ravioli. It was fiddly but I enjoyed both the challenge and the end result. I watched Jamie Oliver's series on Italian cookery and thought that I might give it a go again - but never did. I've a small and, frankly cluttered kitchen and no pasta maker but I guess I could roll it out on my dining room table. And the girls might enjoy helping!!! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Well done Mrs A. I'm very impressed. I have a few kitchen "gadgets" and do use them but have never been tempted by a pasta maker. Tend to be more of an Option A person. May give it a try though. Would love to have seen and heard you and yours all working together to create your dinner - bet your boys enjoyed both the making and the eating.

A x

Mr. Green said...

What a cool idea!

I love fresh pasta, and while I may not have any kids I'm all about cutting down on waste.

Mrs Green said...

Blimey - I did a double take there when I saw a Mr Green commenting LOL!

I've made some more chutney this morning, Mrs A - does that count for kitchen Goddessness? In fact, I'm so chuffed because making this, along with rice pudding and Sunday lunch means I've had to use All six rings at the same time on the hub, plus both ovens.
You would not believe how good that makes me feel (will probably change my mind when I go to take my weekly meter reading in a moment LOL!)

Can I now call you Windy Miller??

Mrs G x

Ruby said...

The pic of your homemade pasta is making my mouth water. It looks delicious.

So, when I come to Bury St Edmunds next week ... how bout'shouse

;-) !!! xxx


Hi Just Gai - Your kitchen sounds just like mine. I've spent the last couple of weeks decluttering but it still looks the same :-D. I must say, I am most impressed with your attempts to make ravioli...blimey. I'm nowhere near ready for that yet. Can't wait to find our how you get on with your new intentions ;-D

Hi Anne - LOL, now I wish we'd taken a video and bunged it up on You tube. I may have had to censor it though, although several days on I am sure we spent most of the time laughing. Maybe the video will come next time ;-D

Hi Mr Green - Thanks for visiting and taking time to leave a comment. As the lovely Mrs Green said, we almost took you for someone else there. Do come back soon and join in though. The more the merrier as well as less waste to manage. And if you have a go at the pasta making, do let us know how you get on :-D

Hi Mrs G - hope you've got over the shock there @-D. Wow more's my turn to bow down. That's amazing and I can well believe the effects on your spirit. Being resourceful can really bring out the best in someone. Have you tried pickled onions yet? I bought some vinegar last week and then some onions this weekend and then, only then decided to look up a recipe...and all I can say is good gawd, I'm going to have to hunt down some of my patience yet again...if I can remember where to find any advice will be helpful, if you've been there already :-D...lots of love Windy Miller xx

Hi Rubes - (huge excitement). I can't believe I'm going to see you so's been so long. So, yes, do come along and let's make pasta! LOL...maybe you can do the YouTube video...ha ha. Can't wait :-D xx

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Hi Mrs A - me again - just had to pop back to tell you that on opening our daily paper supplement at the weekend found an article about your friend Tracey Smith "in the hot seat" answering about 20 questions. Great photo of her too!

A x


Hi Anne - that's so exciting. What supplement was it? As I'll try and get hold of a copy or find it online. Thanks so much for letting me know :-D

Mrs Green said...

Hey Windy,

Nope, not made pickled onions, but I kept the jar of vinegar from LMG's pickled eggs - can I just bung some hardboiled eggs in there or do I have to do something posh?


Hi Mrs G - LOL as sure as eggs are eggs, I don't know my onions enough to be able to offer any advice on that one. If anybody else does, please free to share ;-D

Cristella said...

Hello from Romagna.
It is not so easy to prepare homemade pasta. I have learned after many lessons given by mother and mother-in-law. Use the tools in the right way and get noodles worthy of the name is almost an examination: "When she can make the noodles a woman is ready to marry," it said.
The pasta without the machine, but with the rolling pin and cutting board is better, because more porous (effect of 'wood against wood'). On youtube you can see my performance with a type of pasta used in Romagna, called "strozzapreti", which is easier to prepare because unlike that for noodles (which is only with eggs and flour), contains hot water and only an egg . In this way the pasta is softer to work. In my video you can see the different phases. In the corresponding post I put in too short a recipe in English. I hope you understand something, excuse me for my english.
Hello again. Cristella.

Here the video:

Here the recipe:


Hi Cristella - thank you so much for visiting and for the links. I've just watched your video and am now inspired to have a go at making the Strozzapreti. I appreciate your English translation on your site too. Thank you so much. I'm going to try this at the weekend and will let you know how I get on. Hello to Romagna ;-D

Condo Blues said...

I am in awe of your mad kitchen skills! On a camping trip I remember one of the moms of the families that camped with us made homemade noodles for chicken noodle soup. I was amazed as she rolled out the dough with a plastic cup for a rolling pin and cut the noodles with a knife. It was the first time I saw noodles being made. Up until that time, I didn't realize that someone could actually make their own pasta instead of buying it. Silly kid.


Hi Lisa at Condo Blues - wow now that is amazing, making noodles on the go. Now I am total awe :-D x

Holly said...

Great stuff, have to try it. I found using the Pasta n' More saves me so much time in the kitchen. I found it at

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