Italian Cooking: Handmade Pappardelle with Eggplant, Tomato and Ricotta Cheese Sauce


Nothing beats fresh egg pasta with that savoury, mouthwatering flavour and smooth texture that just slides gloriously down your throat. That kind of heaven only comes with putting one’s heart and soul into preparing the dish. And that’s what I got up to this Monday morning, channelling all the love I had into this beautiful plate of Handmade Pappardelle in an Eggplant, Tomato and Ricotta sauce, recipe courtesy of Chef Charlotte D’Issidoro.

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First things first, let’s get down to the ingredients used for the fresh egg pasta:

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
– 400g plain flour 
– 4 eggs
– 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
– 1 pinch of salt

First, add the EVOO and salt to the flour and mix well.

Then, we start by creating a well in the middle of the flour into which you crack your egg. Once that’s done, here’s the important tip for making sure the dough mixes well and comes up even — form a little ‘claw’ with your fingers. Start by breaking the egg and combining it gently with the flour around it using a up-down plucking motion. This will ensure you combine the flour and eggs slowly and evenly.

Once you incorporate all the eggs and flour together, remove it from the metal bowl and place on a cool, floured surface. Keep kneading and incorporating flour until the dough is nice and film and no longer sticky. Then, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, start preparing the eggplant, tomato and ricotta sauce.

Ingredients: Pasta Sauce
– 3 garlic cloves (minced)
– 500g tinned plum tomatoes 
– 2 medium sized eggplants
– fresh basil
– 1 container of ricotta
– grated parmigiano
– extra virgin olive oil
– salt and black pepper

First of all, we always use tinned plum tomatoes to make pasta sauce because it gives the best flavour and sweetness.

Start by dicing the eggplants and fry in EVOO. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium, add minced garlic and stir-fry for a few minutes, add plum tomatoes and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add fried eggplants and fry for another 15 minutes.

Quick tip –– if you prefer a healthier, less oily option, you can always pop eggplant with a bit of salt into the oven and cook till soft instead of frying in oil.

Finally, add the hand-ripped basil and ricotta cheese and stir. Your sauce is now ready! Now to making the actual pasta.

When working with the rested dough, you want to pass it through the pasta machine at its widest setting a few times to get the gluten working again for a firm texture. Pass it through the machine, fold and pass it through again. Once its the texture you like, keep passing it through the machine, moving it one notch narrower each time until you get a very flat almost 1mm thickness. Keep in mind pasta thickens slightly upon cooking, so we don’t want it too thick.

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Once it’s the thickness you like, flour the flat sheet so it doesn’t stick to the hard surface or itself when handling.
Cut the pasta sheet into roughly three 7-inch portions. Then, roll up each portion into a tube, leaving an inch at the end. Then cut into 1.5-inch sections. Unroll, and voila! You’ve got your pappardelle..

Quick Tip — If you want to do a linguine or fettuccine, just adjust how wide you cut the pasta sheet. If you’re looking to get some colour with spinach, remember to cook the spinach, blend 1-2 tablespoons in with the egg before mixing in with the flour.

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Then, just cook for 5 minutes or till al dente in salty water before combining with the eggplant sauce. Garnish with Italian parsley and parmigiana to complete the dish!

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This was tremendous fun to do and turned out so beautifully I just had to share it. Hope this was helpful and you enjoy preparing your very first handmade pasta. Good luck and let me know how it goes for you! x

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