Versatile pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. It is a reliable standby for quick workday meals but can also be transformed into formal dinner party delights.
The shapes are for a reason. It takes less sauce to cover pasta formed into parcels than it does to cover the same amount of pasta that has been rolled out and cut into strips. Ribbed or shaped pastas hold more sauce than smooth ones and chunky sauces need the ribbed pasta to trap the sauce as it travels from plate to mouth. Tubes are best served with smoother sauces.
Dried pasta is generally made from hard durum wheat flour which gives it a firmer texture — it won't go soft if slightly overcooked — although if seriously overcooked it will become flabby. Pasta should be cooked until it is ‘al dente’ — still a little firm when you bite it.
Pasta machines are now relatively cheap and readily available. It’s fun to make your own pasta and it doesn’t take much practice to become an expert. I like making my own because I can make it as thin or as thick as I like. For lasagne or cannelloni I like pasta a little thicker and for ravioli or tortellini slightly thinner.
High-grade flour plus eggs are mixed until a stiff dough forms. It is kneaded for three to four minutes then rolled out thinly using a pasta machine or by hand.
Based on a recipe developed for World Vegan Day on 1 November by Gerard O’Keefe, the Heritage Auckland’s exec chef. Gerard makes his own pasta using 1 cup roasted pumpkin purée and 3 cups of high grade flour. You can use commercially-prepared pasta sheets but choose thin sheets or roll out thinly. Get the recipe
This is one of my favourite quick meals. Broccoli florets can preplace the asparagus. Orecchiette is a distinctive Puglian pasta roughly shaped like small ears — hence the name. Get the recipe
The cannelloni can be filled then covered and refrigerated for several hours before being topped with the sauce and baked. Do not overcook or the sauce will evaporate. Get the recipe