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Making fresh pasta is pretty damn easy. It’s worth trying if you haven’t before, as it’s incredibly light and is fun to make. Although it’s possible to roll out by hand, you really do need a pasta machine to get the thinness that is required to make light pasta. Although be warned, we’re on our fourth pasta machine now; for some reason if you wind them anti-clockwise then they break. Without fail (we should have learned our lesson by now) – although ours have never cost more than £15, so perhaps that’s the other reason.

Making pasta can be done pretty speedily too, it takes less than 10 minutes to make the dough and then you’ll need another 15 minutes at least of resting time (in which time you can make the sauce). I have made and eaten fresh pasta in the space of half an hour before (but I was very hungry).

The sauce tonight works well with the fresh pasta; especially given the smoky robustness of the porcini mushrooms. So, another hearty, rustico meal that eases you through the throws of Winter… And no meat Siobhann!

The Pasta – serves two (it’s basically 100g and 1 egg per person)

200g Tipo ‘00’ flour

2 eggs

The Sauce – serves two

50g dried porcini mushrooms

2 shallots, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

¾ red pepper, really thinly sliced lenghways

½ a small courgette, grated (directly into pan)

1 glass dry white wine

3 or 4 tblsp crème fraîche

Handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped

Few basil leaves, roughly torn

Few shavings of parmesan

For The Pasta:

In a bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour, and crack the eggs into it. Using a fork, beat the eggs, whilst slowly incorporating more and more flour. Then start using your hands, and once the dough is roughly formed into a ball, start kneading on a suitable flat surface. Once the dough feels really silky then it’s done, usually takes five to ten minutes. Then cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge whilst you make the pasta sauce (dough needs at least 15 minutes).

After the resting period, divide the dough in half and squish half into the pasta machine, on the widest setting, fold in half and repeat a couple of times. Gradually reduce the thickness until the pasta is silky and thin. It’s probably best to cut the pasta in half, otherwise it will become unmanageably long. Repeat with other half of the dough. Then attach the pasta cutter to the machine and push the dough through to make tagliatelle or whatever type you’ve decided to make.

As the pasta’s fresh it only takes a couple of minutes to cook (in boiling water).

For The Sauce:

In a jug empty out the dried mushrooms and cover with boiling water for about ten minutes (I rested a bowl on top to ensure all mushrooms were beneath the watermark). Fry the shallots in a knob of butter and some good olive oil (thanks Bero!), after a couple of minutes add the garlic. With a slotted spoon remove the mushrooms from the jug (keeping the mushroom water), roughly chop and add to the pan along with the peppers. Fry for a few minutes, then grate the courgette directly into the pan and season. Pour over the white wine and reduce ‘til almost gone. Add the cream, and remove from heat. Add the herbs, check for seasoning then add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss around. Serve into warmed bowls, and scatter some shaved parmesan on top.

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