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Pasta Remoli masterclass: gnocchi on heaven’s door

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 September 2017

Homemade italian gnocchi with tomato sauce. Picture; Getty

Homemade italian gnocchi with tomato sauce. Picture; Getty

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Simone Remoli’s teaches Zoe Paskett to make gnocchi at a pasta making workshop

Simone Remoli Simone Remoli

With the busy London lifestyle, it’s a rare thing to be able to relax into cooking and enjoy the process rather than see it as a means to an end.

For some reason, I’ve been able to do this with baking – I can bake for hours, only to give the cake to someone else and not feel too bad about not getting to eat it – but with savoury cooking, I want it to be quick and painless.

But that’s not what pasta-making is about. Just like baking, it’s an activity in itself, and it is to be savoured.

Simone Remoli agrees: he loves the feeling of kneading the dough, of pouring everything onto the table and just diving in there hands first. He knows that, as amateur cooks, we’re not going to have time to do it every day but encourages us to relish it when we do.

Simone Remoli at Remoli pasta masterclass Simone Remoli at Remoli pasta masterclass

All this he communicates at top Italian speed during his pasta masterclass at the east London Bellavita Academy.

Today we’re learning how to make gnocchi and cavatelli (both of which are eggless and suitable for vegans). We begin with a swift demonstration at the chef’s table before getting straight down to brass tacks. It’s a messy business, but if you’re going to make pasta that’s good enough to…gnocchi your socks off (I’ve got loads of these), you’ve got to make a mess.

With Simone wandering around, offering help and assurance, there’s little scope to go too badly wrong, gnocchi on wood (see? I told you). Some in the class have a little experience, having been to two workshops already (tagliatelle and ravioli), but broadly everyone is on the same level.

We make saffron cavatelli and plain and spinach gnocchi, all of which we’ll get to cook and eat with two sauces, a vegetable one and a meaty one. The recipe for the cavatelli dish is below and, as it uses ricotta not made with rennet, it’s suitable for vegetarians. Even with the recipe, however, there’s no equivalent to having Simone there telling you what to do.

Opportunity to be taught pasta making by a true expert with 15 years experience doesn’t gnocchi twice…well, that’s not strictly true.

Courses will run from 6:30-8:30pm eevery Tuesday in November.

And if you’d rather eat than cook, you can taste his food at Pasta Remoli in Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park.

masterclasses (four sessions is £275 incl. all ingredients and graduation dinner at the end of the course; individual sessions £75 each).

pastaremoli.co.uk

Saffron Cavatelli

Ingredients:

175g semolina

175g 00 flour

175g water (with a small sachet of saffron in)

Method:

Pour flour and semolina together onto table, make a well in the middle

Pour water saffron mixture into the well. With a fork, slowly incorporate flour into water until mixed

Mix using hands, and knead until incorporated (work dough 10-12 minutes, until darker and shinier)

Rest for 20 mins

Separate into manageable sections and roll with hands (outwards from middle) to make a thin rope of dough

Cut into centimetre pieces, and roll quickly between palms

Using gnocchi board, roll each piece downwards, pressing with the thumb

When cooking, wait until the pasta floats or, as Simone says: “two minutes, al dente; three minutes cooked; four minutes in the bin!”

For the sauce (while the pasta cooks):

Into very hot frying pan: olive oil, garlic, chilli. When they start to sizzle, add a spoon of aubergine, red onion, courgette, sundried tomato and salt and pepper. Mix around, add a large spoon of tomato sauce and a big ladle of pasta cooking water. Season.

When pasta floats, add to sauce and flip in the pan to incorporate flavour. (“It needs to make love to the cavatelli.”)

Plate with rocket on top, olive oil and grated ricotta.

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