Pasta Perfect with Lizzie Hewson
If Lizzie Hewson asks you over to her place on a Saturday night, you won’t be surprised by what you will be having for dinner.
SIX YEARS AGO Lizzie Hewson was going through a tough time. Constantly feeling anxious, just getting out of bed each day was becoming increasingly difficult for this passionate foodie. Exercise, yoga and even the arrival of her much loved Bernese Mountain Dog, Forest, did nothing to calm her until one Saturday night she decided to make pasta from scratch. “All it took was the simple act of making pasta,” explains the 34-year-old who is Head of Creative for Fink, one of Australia’s leading restaurant groups. “I lost myself in the process and, for the first time in a long time, I had completely zoned out. I was hooked and it become my self-care ritual.”
Today, the Sydney based mum of one — her son Louis just turned two — has a bestselling cookbook, Saturday Night Pasta, and we hear there is another one in the works.
We asked Lizzie about her love for pasta.
In this article (4) items
Clearly, pasta is a popular dish at your house. How often do you make it?
I make it about once a week, usually on Saturday. I find the whole process very therapeutic.
What is your favourite pasta?
That’s a hard one! I love making semolina pasta — orecchiette, cavatelli or busiate, as I love the irregularity of them — but right now, I’m really enjoying making tortellini.
Why did you start making pasta from scratch?
I was going through an anxious time at work. One night I decided to throw myself into making something. I love eating pasta (like most people) and living in Italy gave me a deep appreciation for it.
What do you think is the key to your pasta success?
Just letting go and enjoying the process: feel the knead! Unlike baking, pasta doesn’t have the pressure points; there’s not much that can go wrong. Sure, it might not be restaurant quality, but I can assure you it will still be delicious, because you have made iit with love and care.
Any tips for the beginners out there?
Weigh your ingredients and have all of them at room temperature.
What do you always have in the ‘pasta’ cupboard?
Olive oil, anchovies, capers, lemons, garlic, chilli, chickpeas and butter beans — and I almost forgot, dried pasta and flour of course!
What’s on the menu next Saturday night?
With all this rain, it’s tortellini en brodo! Comfort in a bowl.
Pasta Machine Step by Step
After I have rested the dough for 30 minutes, I cut it in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on how much dough I’ve made) to make it more manageable.
Set the pasta machine to the widest setting. Roll the dough through once, then fold it in half and flatten with your hands or a rolling pin. Turn the dough 90° and roll it through the machine a second time.
Repeat twice, folding and turning the dough each time before rolling it through the machine again. Roll it through once more, but this time do not fold it – just feed the dough through the machine, giving it a gentle pull to create a long and regular shape.
You are now ready to thin out your pasta sheet. Turn the dial on your pasta machine to the next number, to reduce the gap between the rollers. Feed the dough in and gently pull it through as you turn the handle.
Continue to feed the dough through, each time turning the dial to reduce the size of the gap between the rollers. Keep reducing the setting and feeding the dough through, stretching and thinning the pasta until you have reached the desired thickness.
Most egg pasta should be ‘cured’ before being cut into the desired shape. This means to let it dry for 5–10 minutes, flipping it over halfway through the curing time, until it’s starting to dry out but not cracking.
Curing the pasta will help stop the dough sticking when you cut it, especially if you use a machine.
Dry your pasta on a rack as it helps it keep its shape — you don’t want it to fall apart when you boil it.
Separate the pasta ribbons and pile into nests. Plunge the pasta into boiling water as salty as the sea.
Drain the pasta and toss through your sauce — and go heavy with the Parmigiano Reggiano!