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Sicilian Cookery and Pasta Made Simple:
I’ve never made pasta. I thought you needed a pasta machine and a lot of skill to get the pretty shapes that you can buy in the shops. And, it all seemed something of a mystery to me. But, when I arrived in Sicily for a holiday with Flavours to learn cookery from the lovely Carla Zanardi, the first dish we made was a Sicilian pasta called Cavatieddi. We went on to make Lolli and Ravioli – all without the use of a pasta machine. The photo is Lolli – Cavatieddi are about a third of the size but made in exactly the same way! I suspect the most important thing to make these successfully is to ensure you use the correct flour. Semola durum flour is a yellow and slightly course flour that is grown from local durum wheat. It is nothing like 00 flour that we try to use for bread making and that I thought was the right flour for pasta. Nor is it semolina, which is part processed flour of any kind, though it does look a bit like it. Having got the right flour, you need to spend enough time kneading the dough to make sure it is the right texture – with as much gluten broken down as possible. According to Carla, you can’t over-work pasta!
It’s not quite like the pastas we are used to buying in the shops here because it doesn’t use any egg. But, it’s every bit as delicious. In Sicily, pasta is general eaten before the main dish and often served with a simple sauce made from whatever the meat or fish has been cooked in. We made various meat dishes including Falsomagro, which I will explain in a later post and it was the sauce from the Falsomagro, made with tomatoes, wine, onions and the juices from the meat that we used on the first night. We did also make and eat a number of pasta sauces and I am genuinely suprised that I haven’t completely wrecked my attempts to lose weight with the 5:2 diet.
So, if you want to try your hand at a very, very easy pasta – here’s the recipe.
- 300 g wheat flour (this needs to be semola flour)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 100 ml warm water or as needed!
- 1 pinch salt
- Put the flour on a large board, then make a well in the centre of the flour and add oil and salt and a little warm water
- Mix, drawing in the flour and adding more warm water as needed till you have a dough
- Knead until smooth and I elastic
- Take a small piece of the dough and make a very thin sausage
- Cut into pieces about 1/2cm for cavatieddi and about 1.5cm for lolli
- Use your thumb to press out and the fleshy part of your fingers roll back into curled shells for cavatieddi, for lolli, press the longer strips with three fingers, then roll back in the same way as cavatieddi.
- Lay onto a floured surface and dry for around 30 mins
- Cook in boiling water for 10-15 minutes before draining and serving with sauce