♥ PASSION FOR PASTA ♥ Celebrating Italy's Best Loved Primo Piatto

15th January 2013

January is fast shaping up to be Pasta Month at Nonnas!
With all month featuring our reknowned Fresh Pasta offer on all day everyday in both Restaurants, On Monday 14th January a fun filled half day Pasta course at Hartingtons Cookery school where Paul and I thaugh a lovely class of 6 how to make fresh pasta, gnocchi and some basic sauces to enjoy them with and now with soon to be fully announced themed MERCATO on Sat, 26th January at Nonnas Sheffield from 10am-1pm, there is a lot of Pasta to be enjoyed for all. 

In fact we are so passionate about Pasta, our Mercato's first theme will be dedictaed to Italy's best Loved first course! We will be showcasing Fresh pastas, filled pastas and some dried classics matched to sauces and a wine to enhance its flavour. A trip of Italy through its pasta shapes.

When you hear an Italian introduce themselves, you very likely get to know their name, age and where they come from. ‘Italy’ of course but delving deeper into the ‘whereabouts’ you discover which region, which town even. I am Venetian, Napolitean, Sicilian, Milanese, Emiliana, Umbra, Torinese, Valdostana, Ligure, Trentina, Toscana, Laziale, Roman, Calabrese, Pugliese, Molisana  and so on. This statement identifies us and defines us within our Italian-ness.

When it comes to pasta it is no different than to state your belonging, a “membership” almost; of course pasta means a lot to all Italians and this is why we all swear by “our” recipe for pasta as the ultimate one.

In ‘When we are at the table’, Cesare Marchi, writer and Italian personality, unifies perfectly this dichotomy:

“Italians, more than unified people, are a collection. But when lunchtime arrives, sat in front of a plate of spaghetti, the inhabitants of our Peninsula recognise themselves as Italians. Not even military service*, the right to vote, the fiscal musts exercise such an equal unifying power. Italy’s Unification, dreamed by our Risorgimento’s predecessors, today is called pastasciutta”.

*in 1990, military service was still by law exercised.

Personally I love this description as Pasta is one of the many definitions of and for Italian-ness and it is hands down a culinary patrimony that unifies us as Italians in Patria (motherland) and in the world yet respecting each region’s people individuality.

Ricetta Base per pasta fresca

The recipe for Fresh pasta is handed down from mother to daughter, from grandmother to granddaughter and it is literally one of those “just like my mama/nana” used to make type of situations.

The ingredients that make it need to be fresh, tempered (room temperature) eggs, flour, pinch of salt and a lot of elbow grease.

The proportions seem to prefer the one-egg-per-every-hundred grams (or per person) ratio but this differs. There are those that use mainly yolks, others a combination of, but mainly we seem to be all in agreement.

Flour wise, as per tradition, each pastaio (pasta maker) uses either semolina, white farina 00 (really fine grind) or a combination of both.

The dough needs to be kneaded for 20 minutes, then rested for 30 to guarantee perfect elasticity and easy the ‘sfogliatura’ (rolled sheet as thin as a leaf).

In the pasta this was done by hand using a rolling pin but nowadays small pasta rolling machines make the job even easier.  

By Jamie Taylor, Head Chef

PASTA DOUGH (per person)


250g ‘00’ flour
6 egg yolks
pinch of salt
splash of olive oil
splash of water

Place flour onto work surface, make a well in centre. Add egg yolks, salt, water & olive oil. Gradually bring flour in from the edge when a dough forms.
knead for 5-7 minutes to the pasta smooth . Cling film & reserve to one side to rest.

were so called as they used to be hand-cut (tagliate) into ribbons by rolling a sheet onto itself. They are typical of Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Molise and Lombardia (in a smaller format called taglierini or tajarin as it is a smaller width).

Their ribbon ‘shape’ and lengths make them perfect companions of meaty sugos such as ragu, simple tomatoes and creamy pestos.

There are over 300 genres of pasta between ‘lunga’ (long) and ‘corta’ (short), with Spaghetti being the absolute favourite on Italian tables. There are pastas also perfect for minestre (brodo) and soups. Here is a not-so-exhaustive list:


Spaghetti, Speghettini, Bigoli, Bucatini, Tagliatelle, Tagliolini, Taglierini, Capelli d’angelo, Cappellini, Linguine, Mafalde, Mafaldine, Reginette, Trenette, Tripoline, Pici, Fettuccine, paglia e fieno, Lasagne, Lasagnette, Pappardelle, Stringozzi, Strangolapreti, Ziti.


Penne,Penne lisce, penne rigate, maccheroni, maccheroncini, farfalle, farfalline, conchiglie, ditali, ditalini rigati, rigatoni, mezze penne, mezze maniche, fusilli, pizzoccheri, cavatappi, ruote, paccheri, garganelli, gigli, manicotti, sedani, sedanini, casarecce, cavatelli, gnocchi sardi, cellentani, gemelli, pipe rigate, tortiglioni, orecchiette, trofie

Da minestra

Farfalline, Risi, Stelline, Quadretti, Grattini, Sorprese, Letterine, Filini all’uovo, tubetti.


La Pasta ripiena
(tortellini, tortelloni, ravioli, raviolino etc.etc)

Filled pasta cannot be streamed down to simply one universal type. There are so many names, so many fillings and so many traditions attached to each type to ‘fill’ your brains.
Tortellino seems to be the origin of all filled pastas. It is said that this filled pasta originates from the town of Castelfranco in Emilia Romagna, exactly in the middle between Bologna and Modena. Geography is important because as italian’s take their food very personally and both towns swear that they creator of Tortellino.

In Bologna the filling for tortellino differs from the Modenese but it seems only slightly in the menthod and contents. They both use pork loin, prosciutto, mortadella and parmigiano but in different quantities and whilst in Modena the ‘ripieno’ (=filling) is cooked before stuffing, in Bologna it is left uncooked.

‘Paternity’, if you will, of the ultimate tortellino is given to the town of CASTERLFRANCO interestingly within the Province of Bologna until 1929 but today under the province of Modena, hence the rivalry.

It is such a serious culinary deal that in 1974 the Brotherhood of the Tortellino (yes, I am not kidding) & the Italian Academy of Culinary Arts lodged at the Bologna Chamber of Commerce the official recipe for tortellino modenese.

See Recipe:


  • 300 g pork loin
  • 300 g prosciutto crudo;
  • 300 g Mortadella di Bologna;
  • 450 g Parmigiano-Reggiano;
  • 3 eggs;
  • Pinch of nutmeg

The recipe requires the loin to be marinated for two days in salt, rosemary and garlic, then cooked slowly in butter. All ingredients are then minced together to make the filling.

Recipe for Bolognese tortellini


  • 300 g pork loin
  • 300 g prosciutto crudo;
  • 300 g Mortadella di Bologna;
  • 300 g Parmigiano-Reggiano 24-30 months;
  • Salt and pepper, pinch of nutmeg

Finely mince all meat ingredients together (twice), then add parmigiano and aroma. This filling is uncooked.

Ps. In Bologna, even if the tortellino is to be accompanied by a sugo, it is always first cooked in capon broth rather than water.

Another fun fact about this pasta and in true Italian romantic tradition, it is said that the pasta that wraps the filling is named Venus’s Belly button, due to a legend that sees the origin of the shape of tortellino in myth. The name remains but its origin is way more practical and lays in the homemakers of the time wanting to make sure the filling of the tortellino didn’t escape and disintegrate during cooking.

Debate about filled pasta is still rife. We haven’t even remotely covered all the basis in this brief account.

Pasta ripiena whether ravioli, casunziei, tortellino, agnolotti, cappelletti is a diverse universe which, although rooted in its traditions, allows for many more new interpretations and creations.

Here our chef's semplice ma buono filling- easy to make but so delicious you can serve up time and time again. An instant classic

by Jamie Taylor, Head Chef, Nonnas Sheffield

100gr Ricotta
1 lemon zest & juice
20gr chopped marjoram
10ml olive oil
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients together. Place a small dollop, spaced across one side of your pasta sheet, making sure to leave enough space in between. Egg wash the pasta sheet. Fold over the filling. Seal well. Cook in salted boiling water . Serve up with lemon thyme butter, pecorino and oven-dried sweet cherry tomatoes. 


Technically they are not part of the pasta family but nevertheless they are one of Italy's most iconic primi piatti and deserve their place in our post.

These Humble potato dumplings are believed to originate when the first potato cultivar’s appeared after the discovery of America. Since the 1800’s potato dumplings spread on to the Italians’ tables with each region providing its own interpretation.

It quickly became one of Italy’s most iconic dishes with each region’s own tradition, recipe and sugo accompaniment.

Basic Recipe:

1kg of potatoes with floury flesh (such as Desiree, King Edward, Romano)
250gr flour
salt to taste

Notice that this basic recipe doesn’t require egg- in gnocchi tradition there are those that swear by the necessity of adding egg to bind and those who believe that gnocchi are lighter without. In truth the key for fluffy, melt in your mouth gnocchi is in the potato you choose, the more floury the potato, the best sticky mash you get naturally.


No potatoes in sight but still Gnocchi.. “Alla Romana” are made with semolina cooked in boiling salted water (or a mixture of water and milk), knob of butter , abundant grated pecorino romano and eggs. It is then laid to cool in a buttered baking tray. Cut 6m rounds using a cutter.
In a separate baking tray, layer the gnocchi, sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano & pecorino romano, a few knobs of butter then bake until the cheese it grilled to perfection.


Gnocchi are eaten on a specific day of the week according to their regional origin, type and tradition. For instance, in Rome should be eaten on a thursday (according to the menus proposed by old style Trattorias) , in Verona, Veneto, every last friday before Lent (to celebrate the end of the famine), in Naples on Sunday, family & day of rest and rustic pleasures. Each to their own.

by Jamie Taylor, Head Chef, Nonnas Sheffield 

1lb Purple pots washed & mashed
1 egg
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper
‘00’ flour to bind, roughly 500gr (dependant of variety of potatoes)
plus extra flour for rolling

Mash the potatoes in boiling salted water. Leave to cool slightly, add egg & yolk and enough flour to form a smooth dough.
Roll out onto floured surface into 1inch thick sausage. Cut into 2” long diamonds & place into boiling salted water until gnocchi float to the top. Drain off the water using a slotted spoon & toss through basil pesto.


150gr fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
50gr toasted pine nuts
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50gr grated parmesan
Using a small hand blender, place all ingredients in a suitable receptacle and liquidize to desired consistency. Add seasoning to taste.

The contrast in colour between the purple gnocchi and the green pesto make for a visuallly stunning dish- Easy to make, beautiful to look at and mealt in your mouth tasty. 

Join us on our upcoming themed PASTA MERCATO Saturday, 26th January 2013 from 10am-1pm at Nonnas Sheffield Aperitivi Bar!

Posted in Mercato, by Chiara