Fresh pasta is the perfect way to go the extra mile to impress a loved one, and it’s easier than you think. Italian cooking goddess Silvia Colloca taught me everything I know about pasta-making, so this is her recipe. I’ve paired it with a light, fresh sauce that’s perfect for summer evenings, and of course if you’re short on time you can use bought fresh or dried pasta.
Fresh spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, zucchini flowers and ricotta
Extra virgin olive oil
1 eschalot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200g heirloom cherry tomatoes (choose a mix of colours)
200g zucchini flowers, stamen removed, stems thinly sliced, petals reserved
½ cup (120g) fresh ricotta
Chilli flakes (optional), to taste
Pasta dough (or use 250g ready-made fresh or dried spaghetti)
200g 00 flour (from delis)
Pinch of salt
Semolina, to dust
To make the pasta, place the flour on a wooden board, make a well in the centre and drop in the eggs and salt. Mix together using your fingers or a fork, then knead vigorously for about 10 minutes. At first it will look crumbly, but once your body heat activates the starch in the flour the dough will change its texture, transforming into a smooth, firm ball. (If you want to speed things up you can mix the dough ingredients in a food processor until they resemble wet sand, then tip onto a floured board, bring together with your hands and knead for 1 minute.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Cut the pasta dough into quarters. Work with one piece at a time and keep the rest wrapped in plastic film to prevent it from drying out. Flatten the piece of dough with the palm of your hand, then pass it through the widest setting of a pasta machine 3-4 times, folding the dough into 3 each time. Continue passing the dough, each time through a thinner setting, until you get to the second-last setting or the pasta sheet is roughly 3mm thick. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin and a lot of elbow grease.
Pass the rolled sheets through the spaghetti setting, then dust the noodles with semolina and set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. If you’re using dried spaghetti, cook it now according to packet directions.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil In a large, deep frypan over medium heat. Add the eschalot and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the zucchini stems and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to caramelise and brown.
If you’re using fresh pasta, add it to the water now and cook for 2 minutes or until al dente.
Remove the pasta directly from the pot to the pan with the sauce and toss to combine all the ingredients.
Transfer to bowls and scatter with the crumbled ricotta, zucchini flower petals, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkling of chilli flakes if desired.