As most of you know I spend most of my time doing cook schools and demonstrations with a bit of food writing and food tv thrown in. So after a busy few weeks with the Home Show and the last of the weddings of the season, I was looking forward to a quiet week catching up with some writing almost forgetting a little teaching job at Tahatai Coast School in Papamoa.

As a parent I truly believe that teaching our kids about food and cooking is a life skill that we all need. So it was my pleasure to pitch up in Papamoa to teach a group of great boys the simple joys of good food and cooking. We had such fun I thought I’d share one of the recipes that the boys and I made and let me tell you watching a group of kids taste fresh rocket for the first time is a joy.

Making fresh pasta is so easy and quick and, done properly, so tasty. If you have a pasta machine then dust it off and get making, or as the recipe suggests use a rolling pin. The real trick with this is to keep it simple and enjoy the flavours, but take note of the draining procedure as this will make all the difference. If you manage to preserve the starchy sauce catching coating on the pasta you’ll be able to banish forever the sadness of pasta swimming in a creamy soup and actually taste the pasta itself.

For the boys at Tahatai Coast school, thank you for inviting me into your classroom and I hope that at least some of you have cooked this at home by now.

Speedy Pasta with Garlic and rocket

Serves 2

200g pasta ‘00’ flour

2 eggs or 4 egg yolks

a couple of cloves of garlic, finely sliced

fresh rocket, the wild one at the farmers market or Good Food Trading is best

freshly grated parmesan

really good tasting olive oil

half a dozen fresh basil leaves, ripped at the last minute

Seasoning

Beetroot pasta: replace extra yolk with 50g puréed, cooked beetroot

Spinach pasta: replace extra yolk with 150g blanched, puréed spinach

Method

Sieve flour into a bowl.  Add whole egg and combine mixture with finger tips.  Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead into a dough.  If possible, rest in refrigerator for at least half an hour.

Roll out onto floured board into a rectangle.  Next, flour surface of pasta and, using both hands, roll rectangle into a ‘swiss roll’ shape.  Use a sharp knife to cut into desired thickness, e.g. tagliarini (thin), tagliatelle (medium) or parpadelle (thick).

To cook pasta, use 1 litre of water for each portion pasta and 1 litre for the pan.  The water should boil fast while the pasta is cooking.  Allow about 150g fresh pasta per person.  Add 1 tablespoon salt per 4 litres boiling water.  (Olive oil is only really necessary with lasagne sheets to prevent sticking.)  Fresh pasta cooks in 2-3 minutes; “al dente” pasta should feel firm but not have a hard, chalky centre.  Lift into a colander with tongs or one of those natty pasta lifters.  Do not pour the whole lot or rinse as you will lose the precious sauce-catching starch.  Quickly add olive oil and garlic to the hot pan, tip the pasta back in with a good quality parmesan cheese, rocket leaves and a little ripped basil. Season to taste and serve.

For the adults why not try a Riesling to match up to the peppery rocket, Riesling can get a bad reputation but remains the winemakers favourite and done well like the Pegasus Bay they are fantastic.

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