Friday, 22 February 2013

Food Waste Friday - Glamorous pasta making?

We've been on a good minimal food waste roll recently. This week I threw away two halves from a tin of peaches that were past their best, and some left over cake icing that sat for a long time in the fridge waiting to be used up. Surprisingly, given our penchant for cake, none was baked for a while and although it was probably fine, after a week or so it started separating into its separate ingredients, crystallising and generally looking a bit gloopy.

As well as riding the food waste wave without going under, we've been enjoying a February pasta making craze, which has proved a good way of using up vegetables and other odds and ends.

The pasta thing began when I bought myself a little Christmas holiday treat, The Simple Things magazine (at £5 it was quite a big Christmas treat actually, although it's far cheaper if you subscribe). The Simple Things started up in 2012, and as I like to think I cover similar subject matter here, I felt it my duty to see what they were up to! Indeed there are similarities, and although some of the products featured in the magazine are certainly not frugal, there are some good 'green' recommendations, some interesting features and definitely an appreciation of simple pleasures.

Most importantly its beautiful photography lures you into thinking that you, too, could produce wafer thin tagliatelle at home whilst looking glamorous and elegant, and surrounded by glamorous and elegant friends. It certainly fooled my children into thinking that. "That looks really fun!" they said. Fortunately I know enough about my own limitations when it comes to things like homemade pasta, glamour and elegance, so I pointed out that we don't have a pasta making machine like the beautiful Simple Things people, and hoped they might forget about it.

Then Rhonda at the Down To Earth blog did a blog post about making pumpkin filled ravioli, without a pasta making machine. Rhonda is beautiful and elegant, but also, as her blog name suggests...down to earth. She made me think that maybe we could crack pasta making after all.

And we did.

The first time we made tortellini and that little known version, the tiddy oggini (Cornish pasty style), with red and green fillings. (Spinach, ricotta, pesto and garlic versus sun dried tomatoes, onion and red pepper, see recipes below). 

It was fiddly but there were two of us at it (me and Daughter), and once we'd made the dough we developed a good system between us - one of us rolling, and the other filling. It took up much of the evening but in a good way, and Daughter pronounced that, "This is making me feel happy", by which I think she meant that it is the kind of hands on, therapeutic activity with a satisfying outcome, that when conducted at a leisurely pace and companionably is made even more pleasurable.

Tortellini, Tiddy Oggini and the wild card 'sausage'!

Everyone liked our pasta, although we had to warn our fellow diners that 'every piece of tortellini has been lovingly handmade so there may be some variation in size and consistency', i.e. some bits were quite delicious, others were a bit tough and doughy, especially where the pasta was joined at the edges of the tortellini

The second pasta-making session arose when my able assistant had taken a weekend off to go and stay with a friend, but the ricotta needed using up, so I soldiered on alone. I eliminated the fiddliness by making cannelloni tubes, which were easier, and more successful as there were less stodgy seams. So far so good.

Everyday Life On A Shoestring's Cannelloni tries (and fails) to look
as if it wouldn't look out of place in The Simple Things mag!

But then came the most recent pasta creation. Lasagne had been promised for supper on Thursday, but when it came to it I found I had run out of lasagne sheets. Ha! I thought. I shall knock up some pasta dough. But I was in a rush to get the whole thing made before Cubs; any notions of glamour, elegance, leisurely pace and happiness went out of the window. Husband arrived in the floury kitchen to find me with my hands stuck together with pasta dough and various attempts at Lasagne sheets dangling precariously over the kitchen scales, the empty tin of tomatoes, in fact anything that didn't have too large a surface area for the dough to glue itself to. Anything less like a Simple Things magazine photo shoot, you would not be able to find, and Husband threatened to take some picturess for the blog to show people what it's really like here. You know me well enough by now to be able to imagine that for yourselves. Like all my best cooking disasters, it all turned out OK in the end, even if the kitchen work surface did take an awful lot of scrubbing.

I think I'm going to give pasta making a little rest for the moment and find other ways to use up odds and ends. The Simple Things magazine was passed on to Angela at Tracing Rainbows who blogged her thoughts about the magazine here, and I'm hoping she'll write about her husband Bob's pasta making experiences some time, so we can compare notes! And of course you may have noticed that I have stolen the magazine's title for a mini series of Simple Things blog posts of my own. I have no doubt that the magazine pinches a few ideas from 'simple' blogs, so I think it's only fair!

Pasta Dough Recipe

I allow 2 eggs for every 200g of pasta flour.
400g made too much stuffed pasta for the four of us. 200g made the right amount for two layers of lasagne.
Add a splosh of olive oil, a pinch or two of salt, and keep adding spoonfuls of water until it makes a pliable dough.


We used a packet of spinach, an onion, a couple of generous spoonfuls of pesto, half a tub of ricotta, garlic and some bread crumbs, for the 'green' filling.

For the 'red' filling, we used half a red pepper, a few sun dried tomatoes, an onion, mixed herbs and breadcrumbs.

Tortellini and Oggini

Roll out pasta dough and cut circles. Put a blob of filling in the middle (a little goes a long way), and fold into a semi-circle for an Oggini. (We found olive oil worked well to stick the seam together). Bend the semi-circle and join in the middle for Tortellini.

300g amount of dough. Roll out rectangles and fill with the 'green' filling. Lay in a dish and cover with passata and herbs, and some grated cheese if desired.

Roll dough into sheets and lay on top of filling. I did two layers each of lasagne and sauce (finishing with lasagne), with a white sauce and grated cheese on top. The filling was a leftovers affair of onion, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, red lentils and tomatoes.

Be prepared to get sticky!

Food Waste Friday was dreamt up by, to encourage people to use up food instead of waste it. This week you can find Food Waste Friday hosted by 
Simply Being Mum.


  1. Your pasta looks great! Bob's been rather busy of late, so not made any pasta recently. Be sure it WILL get a mention. I was interested to see somebody on TV [Hairy Bikers?]interviewing a guy making ravioli recently. He damped the bottom sheet with a water misting spray [as used for ironing etc] before putting the filling and top sheet in place. It made it much easier to seal the little parcels. Neat idea, I thought!
    Your red and green fillings sound very tasty!!

    weekend blessings xx

    1. Might try that next time! Have just ordered more pasta flour from Approved Foods so there will be a next time!

  2. Okay I've got no excuse, the pasta making has got to be attempted! I also would like to check out the mag but am going to have a major internal battle over the £5 price tag! Hmmm, more thought required!

    1. I never buy magazines but I could justify this; I told myself that the professional (!) blogger has to keep abreast of what the opposition is up to! The subscription works out cheaper at £2.80 but I don't think I'd want it every month.

    2. Don't know how things work there, but here I get all of my magazines from the library.

    3. There's only a small selection of magazines at our local town library.

  3. Maybe it's because I'm hungry, but I'm now thinking about making some pumpkin raviolis. Hmmm, do want to deal with a sticky kitchen? I'll have to think about this.

    1. If you roll it out on a chopping board, like we did the first time but not subsequently for some reason, you'll have less stickiness to deal with!

  4. The canneloni looks delicious - pasta always seems so fiddly to make but your daughters 'happiness' description makes it very tempting to attempt.

    1. The cannelloni was my personal favourite - less fiddly and time consuming than the tortellini. It was a bit like a stuffed pancake in places but that was fine by me.

  5. Homemade pasta sounds delicious right about now. I don't know if you found this to be true, but in our house, we feel the homemade pasta is much more filling than packaged stuff, so I only need to cook up a bit. I've just done plain pastas (someone gave me a handcrank machine years ago), not the filled varieties. I'll have to try filled soon. Thank you for the filling suggestions!

    I do buy one magazine subscription per year. But it's one that I really enjoy, and I see it as one of my affordable luxuries. It's a treat. I don't think that you should feel in any way guilty for buying one copy. And when you were done, you passed it along, instead of sending it to a landfill, so you've gotten even more mileage out of that one issue. Who knows where it will go from there.

    1. Yes our homemade pasta was definitely VERY filling! I'm going to look out for a pasta machine - I think the kids would enjoy making it even more with one of those!

  6. I am impressed! I have never tried - might have to after your post!

  7. Mmmm! Homemade pasta! I love it.
    I have given you an award, you can see it here; Hope you enjoy it!