Freshly handmade summer pasta is on the menu. When tomatoes are aromatic and bursting with flavour I love to use them not only eaten freshly from the greenhouse vine but also in simple sauces. Not only is fresh pasta relatively easy to make with a little guidance, but I also find that the texture carries the sauce or dressing so much better than a dried pasta. Here I have made hand rolled rigate (ridged) pasta hailing from the sunshine South of Italy with vine ripened plum tomatoes and pine-nuts.
Marjoram cavatelli with pan-fried tomatoes & pine-nuts
Preparation time: 1 hour (Including 30 minutes resting of pasta)
For the pasta:
400g Semolina flour (semola di grano duro)
200ml freshly boiled hot water
½ tsp dried marjoram
For the sauce:
5 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 shallots, peeled, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely sliced
600g fresh baby plum tomatoes (on the vine), quartered
1 small red chilli, deseeded, sliced finely (optional)
Parmigiano rind for flavour (optional)
Salt and pepper to season
½ tsp dried marjoram
Small handful fresh basil, torn
80g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, plus a little extra for the table
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to finish
- Tip the flour onto a wooden board and sprinkle over the marjoram. Incorporate and make a volcano into the centre of the flour.
- Slowly add the hot water and form a pliable dough. Work and knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with cling film or place a bowl upside down over the dough and allow the pasta to rest at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes. Covering the dough with ensure it doesn’t dry out and form a skin.
- Once rested take the dough and cut it in half. Cover one half again until needed. Take the remaining dough and cut it into 8 equal sections.
- Roll each section into long sausages, thickness being a little thicker than a standard pencil. I always aim for the thickness of my little finger.
- Feed the pasta sausages (one at a time) through a cavatelli machine or cut small hazelnut pieces of dough and roll them down a gnocchi board or butter pat with the side of your thumb to form ridges. Always remembering it’s the ridges in a piece of pasta that holds the delicious sauce.
- Repeat with the remaining covered dough. Allow the pasta to dry on air-drying trays or standard trays that have been dusted with semolina flour. Leave to dry for at least 1 hour.
- Into a large frying pan pour in the olive oil followed by the sliced shallots and garlic. Fry off gently for 5 minutes until translucent in colour. I always start frying in cold oil, as this will eliminate any chance of burning the garlic.
- Add the quartered tomatoes and chilli followed by the seasoning, marjoram and Parmigiano rind. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Fill the pasta pot ¾ with water. Once boiling salt well. For every litre of water you should use a tbsp. of salt, I use coarse Maldon salt.
- Add the pine-nuts to the tomatoes and stir. Taste for additional seasoning. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Cook the pasta for 5 minutes until al-dente, with a bite. Ladle the pasta with a slotted spoon and tumble it into the frying pan. Add a small ladle of pasta water to emulsify the sauce, stir.
- Stir again, check for seasoning. Add the remaining basil and grated Parmigiano. Serve in warm bowls with an extra drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil and whoever ends up with the Parmesan rind will have an extra special treat.
Out of season this sauce can be made with tinned plum or cherry tomatoes.