All About Fresh Pasta – A Lesson from Ema Costantini

I spent a glorious day with my friend Ema learning all about the art of making fresh pasta from a lady that really knows her stuff!

Not only was she born in the motherland, but she teaches pasta classes at George Brown College…it doesn’t get better than that!

With my sleeves rolled up and ready to learn, I arrived at her home and she had treats set up that our friend Joanna had brought for us to enjoy while we worked (a girl needs sustenance, no??).  This beautiful baguette was from Bar Raval (the best bread everrrr!!)

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In small jars, displayed on a bright sunny window sill, there were Ema’s macaroni that she had made earlier…so pretty!

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So, so pretty, right??

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And all over her home were traces of her creativity (like these lightly brined grape tomatoes (for the recipe, check out this post)

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And look at how pretty this little jar is!!  The beginning stages of lemoncello!!img_4406

Ema starts her pasta off with a combination of both semolina and tipo 00 flour – which I love because most pasta recipes that have been “North Americanized” use all purpose flour (which will still work but won’t be as spectacular as this!!)

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Ema even keeps a handy little seive on the board so she can seive all the flours she’s used and reuse it (she said the little bits are sometimes okay because it gives the pasta texture but not a lot!!)

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Put it on the board and make a well…drop in the eggs and mix away (keeping the wall of flour in tact and bringing more in as you go)

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If you want to see more “step-by-step” egg incorporation, visit my older post about making fresh pasta…

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Now, it’s time to knead…and knead….and knead…

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Now, put it through your pasta machine on the thickest opening…fold it into thirds and put it through again (do this a few times on the largest opening)

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This wooden form with tight strings is called a chitarra (Italian for guitar)…it’s an old fashioned way of making spaghetti!

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You lay sheets of pasta on top and then firmly roll a rolling pin over top…the delicate strings of fresh pasta will fall through…

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Lovely, no???

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Pasta love…

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Another way is rolling the pasta out with a rolling pin, folding it and hand-cutting it…way more work (and not as easy to get the pasta uniform), but oh so satisfying!!

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Ema picked up fresh edible flowers for us to incorporate into our pasta….so pretty!

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Chopped and kneaded into the dough…it was beautiful!

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Now, let it rest…

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Roll it through the machine and repeat the process above….

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If you want to make spaghetti with the pasta machine, connect the piece that makes long strands and put the flattened pasta sheets through…

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Then, what we were all waiting for…lunch!!

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Ema made a quick blistered cherry tomato sauce (a pint of cherry tomatoes, ½ cup good olive oil, 1 large handful basil, 1 fresh chili minced, 1 clove of smashed garlic and sea salt and pepper to taste) and served us up the most simple dish…

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And, the last surprise to our pasta making day? A lovely tiramisu type dessert – zuppa inglese  – made with amarena cherries…amazing sweet finish to the best day with friends!

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Find a day to spend with your friends and cook up a dish that is meaningful…trust me, you will have a blast!!

And, if you want to see Ema in all her glory, check out this video that Grace Pan from Phone Eats First made of Ema and I “playing” in the kitchen!!!

Ema's Fresh Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 100 grams semolina
  • 300 grams 00 flour
  • 4 large eggs (the fresher the better...and,if you're weighing, each egg usually weighs about 60-70g)
  • extra flour for rolling
Instructions
  1. Mix flours together on a large wooden board or counter.
  2. Take out about 4 tablespoons and set aside for use later
  3. Mound the flour and make a well in the middle.
  4. Crack eggs into a bowl and then place them in the middle of the well
  5. Very gently, with a fork, slowly mix and incorporate the flours (make sure you keep the "walls" of the well intact).
  6. Slowly start to take flour from the walls of the well and keep mixing until everything is incorporated (use a bench scraper to scrape the dough from the board).
  7. Cover the dough to rest just for a few minutes.
  8. Knead the dough on one side only using the heel of your hand to press the dough while the other hand pulls it towards you (this needs to be done for a while...aprox 10 minutes to get the gluten activated).
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Once it's rested, divide it into four pieces (remember to keep the rest covered with plastic wrap of a dampened paper towel) as you work.
  11. Flatten the dough and, with the pasta machine on the widest setting, pass it through (remember you have some of the flour set aside from the beginning,,,you can use this to dust the machine as you pass the dough through).
  12. Now, fold the pasta that you passed through the machine into thirds and run through the rollers 3-4 more times.
  13. Move the setting to the next level and pass it through a few times here.
  14. Keep using this method (of folding the pasta into thirds and putting it through each setting 3-4 times) until you get to the last/smallest setting.
  15. Now you can make ravioli or you can attach the linguine section of the machine and pass it through to make spaghetti style noodles (for other options, see explanations above).
  16. Cook as you would any other fresh pasta and serve with your favourite sauce.
 

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