I Learned to Make Fresh Pasta in Italy

For a recent visit to Rome, Italy, my parents and I reserved an in-home pasta-making and dining class on BonAppetour.com, which I highly recommend doing if you’re traveling outside of the U.S. and want to learn more about the cuisine at your destination and meet outgoing foodies. If you're planning a trip to Rome, click here to find available hosts.

Our gracious host, Francesca, had a wide range of interests and knowledge in addition to offering three different cooking experiences; she is a former IT project manager, trained sommelier, Airbnb host, and artistically inclined. As far as Italian cuisine, what her mother didn’t teach her she discovered through experimentation, classes, and cooking shows on television. Learn more about Francesca and the dining experiences she offers here.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of the class was Francesca’s association with making pasta to the creativity of shaping clay and working with one’s hands. Pasta is a staple for Italians, yet their attitude towards food in general, its origin, preparation, and presentation, is given the same respect as works of art. Pasta = Life = Art.

We made 3 pasta dishes from scratch with Francesca’s guidance, but since I am limited here to one post on the subject, I will focus on the initial pasta-making and the ravioli.


We began by “making the volcano” on a clean counter top with Semolina flour and eggs.


Throughout the pasta-making process, Francesca reminded us that our hands are our best tools.


As we took turns kneading, she told us to “Put energy into the dough. The best way is to think about someone you don’t like!”


As the dough rested and the spinach leaves steamed, I blended the ricotta with grated nutmeg and parmesan cheese which would later be combined with the cooled spinach for our ravioli filling. In Italy, there are four varieties of ricotta cheese available; made from cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo (water buffalo) milk.


When it was time to begin flattening our dough to form it into small sheets, Francesca instructed that the flattened pasta should look smooth and not have many “holes,” or indentations, in its surface.


After she showed us how to use the machine, the dough sheets needed to be passed through the rollers a few times more, so she encouraged us to “continue on your own.”


We cut circles from the sheets with a cookie cutter to form our raviolis.

A spoonful of the spinach and ricotta mixture went inside each circle, which were gently folded in half, and pressed or pinched shut.


When the making of the pastas was complete, Francesca, her son Francesco, and his girlfriend  took care of the actual cooking and serving while Mom, Dad, and I sipped glasses of an Orvieto wine, selected by Francesa. We all sat down together for a lively conversation and a delicious meal which was the gran finale of a truly fun and memorable experience!

Nancy C. Sampson // The Nancydraws Shop

Nancy C. Sampson // The Nancydraws Shop


Sumatran Spiced Limeade

I decided to make this recipe one day when I saw some juicy limes at the supermarket that I couldn't pass up. Tucked into one of my fiance's dusty culinary notebooks was a handwritten recipe that sounded strangely exotic and wonderfully refreshing: Sumatran Spiced Limeade.

The name alone made my mouth water, so I stuck the recipe page on the fridge, and proceeded to check my shelves for all ingredients. Coincidentally, there were stalks of lemongrass hanging out on the shelf. Searched through the pantry and found everything else I needed. Perfect!

Limeade Recipe (doubled here to make a larger brew):
Makes 8 cups

• 9 cups of water
• 2 2-inch pieces fresh of ginger
• 4 cinnamon sticks
• 6 whole cloves (or 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)
• 6 tbsp. fresh lime juice
• 6 stalks of lemongrass
• 6 tsbp. palm sugar

  1. With the handle of a knife, lightly bruise stalks of lemongrass to release its juices. Cut off tips and ends and tie each stalk into a bundle.
  2. In a large pot, add lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, cloves, palm sugar and ginger. Add water on top and bring to a simmer. Do not boil.
  3. Add palm sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  4. Turn off heat and add lime juice.
  5. Refrigerate until cold. Serve in glass with ice. Add slice of lime and cinnamon stick for garnish.

A note: the original recipe called for 3 whole cloves, but I substituted ground since I didn't have any.

The combination of tart and sweet is perfect for a hot summer day, and the spiciness of the ginger and cloves provides a slight kick. This has become my favorite drink to make during the summer. I've never been to Sumatra, but after sipping this, I am whisked away to the Indonesian island (if only by the tastebuds)!

-Lisa {Pretty Stationery for Beautiful Souls}