Spelt Flour Maltagliati Pasta and a Cooking Class in Tuscany. A lovely Saturday spent in a Tuscan kitchen making 4 different kinds of fresh pasta, led to a pasta making day with my mother in our kitchen in Rome. On the menu, spelt flour maltagliati, which means "badly cut". The sauce, a combination of local seasonal veggies: artichokes, squash, red onion. A mouthwatering lunch!
Song of the day: High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco
This post combines two of my favorite things: making homemade pasta and attending a cooking class. Well, maybe three, because it also involves spelt flour, which is by far, my favorite flour to use.
Pasta Fresca Cooking Class in Tuscany at Juls' Kitchen
As soon as I arrived in Italy for the winter, I booked a cooking class on pasta fresca in Tuscany with my favorite blogger, Giulia, Juls' Kitchen. I couldn't wait for March to come so I could go and spend the day in a beautiful setting, among wonderful people, some new faces, some familiar faces, and lastly, having my hands in the dough.
The morning started with a thick fog lingering on the beautiful Tuscan countryside, but then turned out to be a sunny, warm, beginning of Spring day. Inside the studio, a functional old stove warmed up the space where six pairs of hands, guided by the talented Giulia, were eager to start kneading, stretching, shaping, cooking and eating together.
On the list of the fresh pasta to make: ricotta ravioli, spelt flour maltagliati, pici, and potato gnocchi. A long wood table hosted two wood boards on each side and we shared the tasks of making 4 types of dough. How fun to make homemade pasta with like-minded people, sharing knowledge, stories of pasta successes and failures, all in a relaxed, cozy, and cheerful atmosphere. No wonder the types of pasta were all amazing and the lunch was incredibly good!
A cooking class is an experience I always recommend. I'll let the following pictures tell you a story.
Making Spelt Flour Maltagliati with my mom
Back home, I knew the first thing I wanted to make was maltagliati di farro, spelt flour "badly cut" pasta. In my mom's kitchen, I set up the usual wood board and started what goes like that:
- on a wooden work surface, pile the flour (a mix of 100 g spelt flour and 100 g semolina flour) into a mound. Make a large well in the center of the mound;
- crack 2 eggs in the center;
- add 1 tablespoon of e.v.o. oil;
- start mixing the eggs/oil with a fork, gradually drawing in the center flour from the sides of the well until the eggs have been absorbed by the flour;
- have a pastry scraper handy and finish kneading the dough by hand, adding drops of water if necessary. It will go from rough and messy to nice and smooth. Work it, work it. No worries to overwork the dough!
So fulfilling! Other than baking, making fresh pasta is my favorite thing to do!
Time to rest
Don't skip the resting time. The dough needs to rest for at least 30 minutes, covered with a bowl or a wet towel, or wrapped in plastic. The resting time relaxes the dough making it easier to handle, work, and shape.
Let the good times "roll"...
At this point, you can use a manual pasta machine, a stand mixer with the pasta roller attachment, or simply a rolling pin. Two eggs of pasta dough is not a lot, so I went the old, traditional way and used a rolling pin. Although, for convenience, I more frequently use the Kitchen Aid attachment, I have to say that the metal rollers of a pasta machine make the dough too smooth, while the rolling pin (mattarello, in Italian) gives the dough a coarse, pebbly texture and sauces stick better to rougher textures achieving the best marriage of sauce and pasta.
With a knife cut a piece of dough, keeping the rest of the dough covered. Very lightly flour the board, flatten the piece by lightly pressing with your fingers and start rolling it from the center away from you to the outer edge. Turn the dough a quarter-turn, and repeat, working your way around, stretching as well as pressing down, and adding a little flour to the dough as you roll it out to keep it from sticking. Roll it fairly thin, but slightly thicker than it would be for fettuccine (where you need to see your hand through the sheet). It doesn't really matter the shape you've created: round, or oval, since we are making maltagliati, badly cut pasta.
Then, spread the sheets out on a flat surface and dry for 15-20 minutes.
Time to have fun cutting maltagliati
Maltagliati are literally "things that are badly cut".
Using a wheel pastry cutter, cut the sheet of dough first into long strips, then cut across each strip at varying angles to form short, uneven rectangles. My mom's maltagliati were almost all diamond-shaped and quite pretty. Mine were more irregular. I stuck to the concept expressed to their wonderful name, lol. Although you don't want them to all look alike, they should be -more or less- the same size so they cook in the same amount of time.
Transfer the maltagliati to a semolina-dusted cloth, baking sheet, or tray. Dust more semolina on top so to prevent any sticking. We used my mom's old wooden tray.
Time for the sauce!
Our lunch was a joint venture. I made the dough and stretched it, my mom and I both cut the maltagliati, while my dad made the sauce. We went local and seasonal for our sauce: artichokes, squash, red onion and garlic, cooked in e.v.o. oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of turmeric, my dad's latest obsession, lol. He adds it to almost anything!
While the sauce was finishing cooking, we brought a large pot of salted water up to the boil. We dropped our freshly made pasta in and waited for it to rise to the surface. Boiled for another minute or two, tasted for the desired doneness (we like it al dente) before draining and tossing with the sauce.
Such an amazing flavor! The spelt pasta has a wonderfully rich and nutty flavor, a nice bite in the texture, and that 'roughness' that allows the sauce to shine. If you have never tried fresh artichokes and squash, please do so. It is a great combination. We also make a casserole out of it, with artichokes, squash, and potatoes. So delicious!
Maltagliati pasta can be served with any kind of sauce, but they are also excellent in hearty soups, where they comfort you like a hug. We made maltagliati again, cut them a little smaller, and this time we made a wonderful Pasta e Fagioli.
Enjoy maltagliati and buon appetito!
Song of the day: High Hopes by Panic! At the DiscoPrint