Transporting Italy to Your Kitchen

What is the one thing that a typical student will relish the thought of more than a cancelled 9am seminar? It is, of course, pasta.

A timeless dish which can transform a greasy shared kitchen into a Michelin star restaurant, convinces students everywhere that they can cook. Open a jar of sauce, boil some pasta, and amaze your flatmates with your culinary prowess. 

A pillar of Italian cuisine throughout its history, references to pasta date back to the 12th century, although many food historians would argue it existed long before this recorded date. The ever-increasing adoration of this Italian classic saw its most remarkable mention in literature in the 14th century through the poet, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron: “A mountain, all of grated parmesan cheese” on which “dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli”. 

Whilst in the 21st century, pasta is accompanied by varied sauces, toppings and fillings, in Medieval times only the rich were lucky enough to have this indulgence; the poor ate it plain. During the 18th century, many English noblemen travelled abroad to indulge on various European cuisines, yet it was the centuries to follow in which pasta truly left its culinary mark.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, many Italians migrated and brought with them their wealth of cuisine, shaping the variations of pasta we know and love today. Whilst it remains popular in Britain, the USA, and Australia in particular, Italy consumes approximately 1.4 million tonnes of pasta every year – a figure which any other country may struggle to even come close to. 

The synonymous pairing of pasta and tomato sauce was first noted in a cookbook by Francesco Leonardi in 1790. Whilst the taste of this classic duo remains the most acclaimed, in this recipe I have developed my own filling of courgette, pea and lemon which should strike your palette with light and refreshing notes. This recipe is also free of any plastic packaging, meaning making your own pasta is better for the environment! 

Image credit: Georgia Lambert

Ingredients for the pasta:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 4 eggs – 3 for the pasta, 1 for the egg wash

Ingredients for the filling:

  • Courgette
  • Peas
  • Lemon
  1. Begin by measuring out the flour into a bowl
  2. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add the eggs
  3. Mix the flour and egg together gently 
  4. Knead the pasta for 5 minutes – you’re aiming for a smooth and silky dough
  5. Once you’re happy with the dough, cover it completely in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  6. Whilst your dough is in the fridge, begin to make your filling by dicing the courgette into small cubes, then add this to the blender
  7. Add the peas to the blender
  8. Juice the lemon, add it to the filling mix then blend until you have achieved a smooth consistency 
  9. Set the filling aside and begin to roll out your pasta dough
  10. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough, then feed it through a pasta machine if you have one – if you would prefer to use a rolling pin, then roll the dough until it is very thin and translucent 
  11. Cut out the square shapes from your rolled-out pasta dough – you can use a square cutter, or alternatively, you can make a square-shaped template from a piece of card
  12. Once your shapes are ready, begin to fill them – I would use 1tsp of filling but if your squares are quite large, then use more – be cautious not to overfill your ravioli as this could cause them to split open
  13. Seal the ravioli by covering the sides of the square in egg wash, place another square on top, then press down the edges with a fork to get any air out of the parcel
  14. Finally, it’s time to cook your ravioli – you want the temperature of the pan to be hot but not boiling, a gentle simmer would work well, any hotter and there is a risk the ravioli might open in the pan
  15. Cook for 5 minutes to achieve an al dente texture, serve hot and enjoy!

Rating: 9/10

Difficulty: Tricky

Cost: £3-£5

Equipment: Pasta machine or rolling pin, and a blender