Homemade Pasta Made Simple: A Pasta Cookbook with Easy Recipes & Lessons to Make Fresh Pasta Any Night, written by Manuela Zangara, demystifies homemade pasta at home with a variety of techniques, shapes, and over 30 accompanying sauces. I have actually been a longtime follower of Manuela’s blog (and have featured a few of her recipes here from the Salted Caramel Popcorn for my son’s latest birthday and Tagliatelle Dolci di Carnevale to Crostata di Marmellata and the Australian Damper) and was so excited to learn that she was releasing a cookbook. I am sharing her tutorial for the pasta shape, Trofie, and other notable shapes include Broccoli Gnocchi with Aglione Sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano Fagottini, Stringozzi with Artichoke Sauce, Rombi with Eggplant and Tuna Sauce, Fettucine with Ragù alla Bolognese, and Cavatellini in a Chickpea Soup. This book is set to release on August 8, 2017.
Manuela Zangara grew up in Milan with Sicilian parents. She started her food blog, Manu’s Menu, in 2011 and is also a freelance food writer and photographer. In addition to this book, she has also released a couple of eBooks including the latest, The Cool Side of Summer in 2015. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two daughters.
Disclosure: I received a PDF review copy of this book from Callisto Media in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Chapters are divided as follows: Part 1 (Ingredients & Equipment, The Dough, The Skills) and Part 2: (Hand-Shaped Pasta, Ribbon-Cut Pasta, Stuffed Pasta, Gnocchi and Gnudi, Sauces).
Homemade Pasta Made Simple was made with beginners in mind. Manuela breaks down the basic ingredients needed and how to use them to create the best results and flavor. She also includes a guide for essential tools along with those that aren’t required but will make the process easier.
Three basic doughs are used as the foundation for the shapes provided in the book: egg pasta dough, durum wheat, and gluten-free. Manuela walks you through how to form the dough using the food processor, stand mixer, or by hand. For some added fun, she includes guides for naturally dying the doughs yellow, green, and red. If you don’t have a pasta machine to roll the dough, she even explains how to hand-stretch it. Tutorials are also given on how to dry, store, and cook the pasta. The last few pages of the book include a glossary with notable terms, resources with links to Manuela’s video tutorials for extra help on forming the shapes, and measurement conversions.
A few beautifully-styled photos are scattered throughout the book, mostly at the beginning of each chapter. There aren’t any photos of the actual shaping of the pasta, but a handful do have step-by-step illustrations such as the Cavatelli, Orecchiette, and Ravioli.
Each shape includes a headnote with information on the origin, tips, meaning, prep and cook time, and suggestions on how to serve it- including sauce pairings. Measurements are provided in US Customary.
This book is a great pick for those new to pasta-making or looking to expand their ability. There is a nice variety of favorite and lesser-known shapes, fillings, and sauces. Having a pasta machine will helpful for the ribboned shapes, but is not required. Most shapes are formed using a knife, your hands, a fork, or even a knitting needle. The majority of the ingredients can be readily found at home, though durum wheat flour, mussels, speck, semolina flour, and chestnut flour may be difficult to find in some areas.
Trofie come from Liguria in Northern Italy. These little noodles are formed by taking balls of dough, rolling them into ropes that are thicker in the center and taper at the ends using the palm of your hand, then using the side of your hand to twirl them creating a characteristic groove. I served the Trofie with Pesto alla Genovese, but they can also be paired with the Ligurian Walnut Sauce.
This is a great introductory shape since no special tools are required, not even a pasta machine. It was also fun to make with the kids without having to explain multiple steps. Evan and Claire both enjoyed practicing and Evan referred to them as little worms (he is currently in a bug phase and this made them even more appealing to him).
Don’t form the Trofie on a work surface dusted with flour or they won’t twirl into the correct shape.
The pasta dough uses a flour called durum wheat. Durum wheat flour (not to be confused with the coarser semolina flour) is a hard, yellow high-protein flour that can be molded and shaped into a dough without the addition of eggs. It can be located in the specialty flour section of many larger grocery stores, especially those that feature Italian ingredients. It can also be found online: Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Pasta Flour
I also made the Lasagnette and the Cacio e Pepe Triangolini.
Lasagnette are wide egg pasta ribbons that literally translate to “small lasagna.” I served the noodles with the Tomato and Basil Sauce. It can also be paired with the Spicy Pork Ragù or the Sausage Sauce. This was such a wonderful and light, summery dish though Claire did have some difficulty eating the long, wide noodles and ended up with tomato sauce pretty much everywhere.
The Cacio e Pepe Triangolini takes the traditional pasta sauce and turns it into a creamy filling. This may be one of my new favorite fillings. I took Manuela’s advice and paired the triangolini with the light Butter and Sage Sauce. It was perfect and didn’t overpower the flavor of the triangolini. I used my triangolini mold, but the shapes can easily be cut by hand.
Excerpt from Homemade Pasta Made Simple
Know-by-Heart Durum Wheat Pasta Dough:
14 ounces durum wheat flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water (about 7 ounces), plus up to 3 tablespoons if needed
1 batch Know-by-Heart Durum Wheat Pasta Dough
Durum wheat flour, for dusting
Sea salt, for cooking the pasta
To make the durum wheat pasta dough: Weigh the flour and mound it on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add 3/4 cup of lukewarm water to it.
Using the tips of your fingers, mix the water with the flour, incorporating it a little at a time, until everything is combined. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of water, a little at a time, if required.
Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth. Make into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out, and let it rest for 30 minutes before turning it into pasta.
To make the pasta: Dust the baking sheets with durum wheat flour.
Take small balls of dough (about 2/3 inch) and roll them using your palm into small ropes about 1 1/2 inches long. Make sure the ends of the ropes are thinner than the middle part.
Put the side of your hand perpendicular to the left end of the rope of pasta and pull it toward you while applying a light pressure. This motion will twirl the pasta, giving it its characteristic shape.
Put the shaped pasta on the prepared baking sheets.
Repeat the above steps until you have no dough left.
To cook the pasta: Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the pasta for about 5 minutes, or until al dente. To test this, remove a piece of pasta from the pot and take a bite. It should be cooked but still slightly firm in the center.
When the pasta is ready, drain it through a colander and shake out the excess water.
Serve immediately with the sauce of your choice.