Over the last few weeks, Mary Berg has been taking us to class with her master lessons in everything from mastering poached eggs to perfecting the ultimate nachos.
And now, class is back in session. Mary returned to the Your Morning kitchen to give Ben a crash course on a classic meal: pasta. You can find her recipes below.
Basic Pasta Dough
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons ‘00’ or all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for kneading
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil
WHAT YOU DO:
- Dump the flour onto a large work surface and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, gently mix the salt through and create a well in the centre of the mound. Crack the eggs into the well, being careful not to let them spill out over the edge. Add the oil and, using a fork or the tips of your fingers, beat the eggs and oil together and begin to incorporate the flour by pulling it in from the inner wall of the well.
- Once the mixture becomes a bit shaggy and tricky to work with, start using your hands to knead the dough into a cohesive ball. At this point, set the shaggy ball of dough aside and discard any scraggly dry bits and flour that is left over. I typically have about 1 – 2 tablespoons of refuse at this point so don’t feel the need to try to incorporate everything.
- Bring the ball of dough back over to your work surface and continue kneading for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth, adding a dusting of flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling, cutting, shaping, drying slightly, and cooking.
- If you’re looking for a bit of a tidier method, feel free to use your stand mixer or a food processor.
- For the stand mixer approach, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of your mixer and create a well. Crack the eggs into the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, whisk the eggs and oil together and incorporate the flour until a shaggy dough forms. Fit your mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead on low for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. As with above, if a few tablespoons of flour are left in the bottom of the bowl, no worries! Cover the dough with plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before using.
- For the food processor approach, toss the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Crack the eggs into a glass measuring cup, add the oil, and give it a whisk. With the mixer running, slowly pour the egg mixture through the chute and blitz until it all comes together into a smooth dough. Remove the dough from the processor, leave any scraggly bits behind, and give it a bit of a knead for about 4 or 5 minutes, adding flour when necessary. As with above, allow the dough to rest covered in plastic for 30 minutes prior to using.
Basic Pasta Sauce
Makes about 1 litre
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tbsp white wine, optional
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 hunk of parmesan rind, optional
- 1 – 796ml (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp finely chopped basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
WHAT YOU DO:
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes or until the onions start to soften. Add the finely minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so just to cook off some of that raw garlic hit.
- Add the white wine, if using, and the quartered cherry tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down a bit. Add the hunk of parmesan rind (if using) as well as the canned tomatoes, sugar (enough to balance the acidity of the tomatoes), and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Cover the pot and lower the heat to allow the sauce to simmer away for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. After 10 minutes, the sauce will be flavourful and quite bright tasting. If you’re looking for a deeper and richer sauce, closer to the hour mark is where you need to go.
- Finally, stir in the parsley and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy over fresh pasta.
Basic Cheese Tortellini
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 batch Basic Pasta Dough
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- ½ - 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk
WHAT YOU DO:
- In a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir well and taste for seasoning. If it needs a bit more salt, pepper, or whatever, feel free to add it now. Once you get the seasoning right, stir in the egg yolk and set aside.
- To form the tortellini, roll out the pasta dough into paper-thin sheets. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling mixture into the middle of each round or pasta. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and run it along the edge of the round to moisten. Fold the dough over to form a half moon around the filling, press well to seal, then draw the two corners of the half-moon together to form a little tortellini shape. Press tightly to join the two corners together and place your formed tortellini onto a flour dusted baking sheet, leaving room between each little shape.
- Continue to form the tortellini until all of the pasta is used up and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Pop the tortellini into the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the tortellini have bobbed up to the surface and is cooked to your liking.
- Toss with whatever sauce you’d like! Personally, I’m a fan of lemony brown butter!
- If you want to freeze the tortellini, freeze on a sheet pan in one layer until solid then store in a zip top bag.