As promised, here finally is a post describing our delicious day-date making homemade pasta in Tuscany. This was a class given by our hosts at the villa where we were staying (villa described in THIS POST), and it was held in their adorable anthropology-esq home. After they returned from taking the other two class members to an invitation only tasting at a winery in the nearby Chianti Region (why did we opt out of that excursion???), we met up with them and got to work making homemade tagliatelle and ravioli on a long table in their living room.
This class was so much fun! It was a lot better than other cooking classes because it was much more intimate and personal—like being in an Italian friend’s cozy kitchen, chatting, drinking good wine and making dinner with them, because, well, we actually were.
We made two types of pasta using only flour and eggs. The trick to the dough was getting the consistency just right and making sure that it never got too sticky or too dry. This was achieved, as all good things in life are, through patience. Initially we put a bit of flour on the table in front of us in a pile. We then created a little hole in the pile and poured an egg right in the middle. Reverting to childhood finger painting days, we slowly mixed the two ingredients together, making circular motions with our pointer finger, used as the “spoon”, mixing in just the tiniest bit of flour at a time.
Once the flour and egg were mixed, we kneaded the dough with our hands, making sure to add a bit more egg from the inside of leftover shells, should the dough feel a bit too dry. We learned that you do not want the dough to stick to your hands, but do want it to be about the consistency of the soft part of your hand right below your thumb. When we achieved the perfect consistency, we wrapped our dough in plastic wrap and let it be for a few minutes, taking only small amounts out at a time to shape into our pasta pieces.
We used pasta makers to thin out the dough and cut it into even pieces, but this can be done with a rolling pin and knife/circular cookie cutter. Should you wish to try this at home, the full recipe with detailed instructions is listed HERE on our host’s web site.
When the pasta was done, our hosts helped create a superbly delicious meal with it, and we all enjoyed it together.
Being in this class reminded us of how simple it is to make good food, and how little ingredients you really need. It brought us back to place where we could appreciate what we were eating–the lovely flavors and textures–even more, because we had seen it along every step of its journey to the beautiful little table we were enjoying it on. It also made me realize how wasteful I usually am–those scraps of dough left over that I would normally throw out, here they were saved to make into a soup on another day. When we get home I mean to keep these lessons in mind as a way to get back to basics, cook real food, eat real food, use all that we have, and really appreciate it. It’s funny how lessons you learn with food often apply to other aspects of life, and these are no exception. When created mindfully with love, attention, and a respect for its parts, the simples things can bring the most joy. :-)
If you are in the San Donato area of Tuscany and want a fun experience, you don’t have to be staying at this Villa to join in on a class or wine excursion. Just check out their website HERE.