An­gela Hart­nett’s warm­ing win­ter pasta dishes

FLAVOURS OF ITALY An­gela Hart­nett’s favourite recipes are the ul­ti­mate in cold-weather com­fort food – and they might de­liver a pang of nostal­gia, too

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Iwas for­tu­nate to grow up mak­ing pasta from scratch with my Ital­ian grand­mother, who would tip out the flour and the eggs ad oc­chio, or by the eye. There was no weigh­ing of any­thing – it was to­tally in­stinc­tive.

Like most things, mak­ing pasta im­proves with ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s about know­ing that it’s not too wet and not too dry. And it sounds silly, but you don’t need to be afraid of it – you can re­ally bat­ter, mould and knead that dough. Prac­tis­ing un­til you get it right is the key. Be­cause I’ve been do­ing it for 40-odd years, I find it very re­lax­ing and ther­a­peu­tic. For rolling, I tend to use my Im­pe­ria pasta ma­chine at home, a model that’s pop­u­lar through­out Italy.

That said, I cook with dried pasta, too. For cer­tain sauces, dried is ac­tu­ally bet­ter: in a lovely spaghetti with clams, say, the starch in the dried spaghetti helps the sauce to stick.

The sauce to pasta ra­tio is im­por­tant to get right. For Ital­ians, the pasta it­self is key to the com­po­si­tion of the dish, and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily all about the sauce. Some­times I see dou­ble the amount of sauce needed, with the pasta swim­ming in it, which isn’t re­ally the way to do it. And it should be all tossed to­gether – not served with the sauce sit­ting on top.

When it comes to pasta shapes I’m a tra­di­tion­al­ist, and I do find that cer­tain sauces go with cer­tain shapes – I don’t sud­denly want to do a prawn sauce with riga­toni, for ex­am­ple, be­cause in my mind that shape needs a meat sauce. Spaghetti and lin­guine work bet­ter with light fish or tomato sauces, and pap­pardelle (quite thick in width) suits a heav­ier, meatier sauce, but ul­ti­mately you can do what­ever you want!

The cavolo nero used in the tortellini over­leaf has a win­try flavour that is de­li­cious with nut­meg, gar­lic and chilli at this time of year, but you could use spinach, kale or any other leafy greens. And the pasta e fa­gi­oli – my ideal Sun­day night sup­per if I’ve got beans left­over from some­thing else – is a tra­di­tional peas­ant dish which smacks of win­ter in north­ern Italy. Dif­fer­ent re­gions have vari­a­tions of it, and it’s hearty and nour­ish­ing, like ri­bol­lita. If I’m in need of feel­ing like my grandma is giv­ing me a big hug, it’s the per­fect dish to make.

Cer­tain sauces go with cer­tain pasta shapes, but ul­ti­mately you can do what­ever you want!

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