I love many foods, but it’s fair to say I’m obsessed with fresh homemade pasta. Lately, I’ve been making pasta weekly - and in bulk. And, since I have adult braces for another 11 months, I’ll be downing loads more pasta and other easy to chew mushy foods. And I’ll be sharing all my recipes over the coming weeks.
I first made pasta in my year 8 home economics class in high school. We made it with eggs, some nasty home-brand white flour and a rolling pin. It took ages, but it tasted great. In fact it tasted way better than I expected. Pasta was not something we ate very frequently at home, and after this introduction I was determined to get it into rotation.
My passion for cooking continue to grow, but nothing inspired me more than my hatred for tuna mornay, which is possibly the most horrific food substance in existence. And Mum was hell bent on cooking regularly. So at fourteen I struck a deal with Mum; if I wanted to stop eating the tuna bilge then I would have to cook my own meals, which was fine with me!
Now before I continue, I need to clarify that my Mum is a fantastic cook; but I’m sure you will all agree there are always a few dishes in rotation that one would rather skip. Like tuna mornay, apricot chicken and anything that includes french onion soup mix.
So I started small, making crumbed chicken, roasts, marinating meats, attempting stir-fries etc. And I started flicking through Mum’s cookbooks to find new and exciting flavors to add into the rotation. I did try to replicate that pasta recipe, but it just wasn’t quite the same....
Enter The Naked Chef.
Now, you have to understand I was a teen know-it-all with a new found love for cooking, and here was this cute young English guy with a moped, a trendy London apartment and a penchant for cooking - he made it look cool! Swoon! I became madly obsessed with Jamie Oliver, and I received my first cookbook the Naked Chef, with matching apron for my 15th birthday (I still have both items and use them regularly).
So I guess you can blame Jamie for my pasta obsession. After I stopped drooling over his photo on the cover, I started to read the recipes, experimenting with my own combination of flavors (most of which included way too much garlic) and I became more and more confident in my own pasta making skills.
But what really inspired me as a budding young cook was his flare in the kitchen. “Bit of this, bit of that and Bob’s your uncle!” He made me realize that you need to get a feel for the food, get in and get dirty and that it doesn’t need too look restaurant quality to be amazing. Just give it a go!
So with that in mind, here’s my adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot Pasta.
Roasted Beetroot Pasta - serves approximately 8 1 super large beetroot - or 2 regular sized beetroots 2 large free range eggs 400g of organic spelt flour
- Peel and dice your beetroot into chunks, add into baking tray with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil and roast until beetroot is cook through, but doesn’t fall apart. This should only take about 10-15 minutes on high.
- Allow the beetroot to cool before pureeing. This should make approximately a cup.
- In a food processor (or if your mad and you want to do it by hand), combine all ingredient under a ball of dough forms. Rest the pasta dough in the fridge for an hour.
- Divide your dough into quarters. You will need to keep it tightly covered so it doesn't dry out.
- Take your first portion of the dough and flatten with your hands, lightly dust with flour and take through the lowest setting (usually marked as '0') on your pasta machine. Fold the dough over and roll it through again. Repeat this step at least 10 times on the first setting. This process is called laminating. Your stretching the gluten in the pasta to achieve a silky smooth texture.
- Increase the pasta machine setting to the next level (1), fold your dough again, flour and continue to laminate the pasta into long sheets. I usually repeat this about 5 times per setting until I have the desired thickness of pasta. My machine has 0-9 setting and I usually don't go passed level 7. You will not need to flour your pasta sheet after every roll, only when it feels sticky. Too much flour will make the texture crumbly.
- Now that you have a long sheet of pasta, dust it with flour and run it through your fettuccine cutter on your machine, or cut into your desired thickness with a knife.
- I like to hang my pasta on a $3 jewellery tree from Ikea, with a little baking paper to stop it sticking. You can then transfer the pasta to a floured and lined tray to dry out in little bunches. If you're storing the pasta, it needs to be completely air dried before transferring to an airtight container. It should last for up to 3 months in the pantry.
This pasta is lovely and sweet, and the spelt adds a fantastic nutty flavor. It pairs great with a simple zucchini bacon carbonara sauce, meatballs or even a marinara. Enjoy!