I love my kitchen. It has a great big central kitchen bench in the middle of an otherwise very compact space (in a very compact house). I means cooking can be a social activity – several people can chop and stir and roll and fill at once. Kids can sit up at a stool and be involved, and if they play it right get to listen in on adult conversations.
It only works though if it is not cluttered. There are bowls of fresh fruit and veg, and a vase of flowers, and a few tools in daily use, like my garlic rock and mortar and pestle, allowed on the bench, but nothing else.
Which brings me to my pasta maker. I’ve just got one, yesterday, at a garage sale. I’m not sure at all whether it will be a stayer. The Rules of the Bench mean that it has to live up on a shelf and there are very few kitchen tools that are valuable enough to be taken down and used regularly to earn their space. Mostly I find the effort of washing up, putting away, pulling down, setting up is more than it’s worth.
With pasta, up until now I’ve always just gone with a rolling pin. Lasagna and tortellini are easy peasy. Tortellini are even easy and fast enough for the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. I’ve been playing with a few different tortellini lately, but this has been our favourite.
Makes two big serves, or three normal ones.
Pasta by Hand:
Put a kettle full of water on to boil. You will need a big pot of boiling water to cook the tortellini.
In a food processor, blitz until the dough just comes together (just a few seconds)
- 1 cup of bakers flour (I use the same Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour that I use for my sourdough, but any high gluten flour will work)
- 2 eggs
- 2 dessertspoons (or 1½ US tablespoons) of olive oil
- good pinch salt
Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, then leave it to rest for a few minutes while you make the filling.
Lemon Feta Filling
You don’t need to wash the food processor. Just blend together until smooth-ish
- 160 gm feta (low fat is fine)
- 4 dessertspoons (or 3 US tablespoons) plain yoghurt
- 8 – 10 green olives (or you could substitute capers)
- a good teaspoon of lemon rind ( I like a heaped teaspoon, but I really like citrus flavours)
- Grind of black pepper
- A tiny bit of fresh chili or chili powder
Divide the pasta dough into 15 little balls about the size of a large macadamia in its shell.
Flour the bench well, and with a floured rolling pin, roll the balls out very thin. (If you flip them several times while rolling, you’ll find you can easily get them very thin without sticking.)
Put a spoonful of filling on each circle. Use a pastry brush, or just your fingers dipped in water to wet the edges. Fold the tortellini over and seal together like a little pastie. With the fold towards you, bring the two corners round towards you and squeeze them together.
Cook in a big pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes till they float to the surface.
And while they are cooking, again you don’t need to wash the blender. Just blitz together:
- a tomato
- a good handful of sweet basil
- a little swig of good olive oil
Drain the tortellini, divide into bowls, spoon over a few spoonfuls of sauce and gently toss, and top with a grating of parmesan.
Have you been doing the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge? Links to fast, easy, healthy, midweek vego recipes are welcome.