Les Petits Chefs make pasta with Massimo Bruno

I first met Massimo at a fabulous “Journey to Puglia” dinner at his “hidden” restaurant in Toronto and have since sent many people his way, and returned a few times myself.  Going to a supper club is like going to a great big house party where you meet all sorts of interesting people, then you get to go home while someone else cleans up… ;-)   I’ve even managed to score two of my favourite recipes off the man himself – popette d’uova and gnudi.  I was so excited when Massimo expressed an interest in coming to work with the boys and show them how to make “real pizza” – and I knew the boys would be too!  We had an amazing session last term where Massimo showed the boys how to make real pizza Margherita and pizza dough from scratch!

Massimo wanted to try pasta from scratch which I was very excited about since I was supposed to be making my own for this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp, cooking pasta and dumplings. I know, I know, it’s cheating a little to have a lesson from an Italian chef but I figured who better to learn from, right?  Plus, I figured if the boys could make it, I surely could!

Massimo started out showing the boys how to make a little well in their special Semola flour (though he explained you could use regular flour if you couldn’t find the Semola and pour in some water, then mix the water in with either a finger or a fork, incorporating very very slowly.  He didn’t measure anything, telling the boys that a lot of the time, cooking is about how the food feels, looks and smells. I couldn’t agree more… (for those who are interested, Massimo uses about 400mls water for each kilogram of flour used).

The he showed the boys how to knead the dough to the right consistency.

When the pasta dough had reached the right consistency, we all made sure to feel it so we could know when ours was ready.

And then the boys got to work themselves…

Oh it was SO much fun!

Kneading, kneading, kneading…

After resting the rolls of pasta wrapped tightly in plastic wrap (and… err… being careful NOT to hold them the entire time they are resting in hot little hands), Massimo showed the boys how to roll long strands of pasta and cut them into tiny pieces.  Then he showed us how to make the typical shape for cavatelli (little scooped out pasta pieces).

Just like Play Doh, only more delicious!

And whilst they were not perfect, they were pretty darned cute 🙂

Meanwhile…. on the other side of the kitchen science lab…

A simple tomato sauce with garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper…

Homemade cavatelli with simple tomato sauce

Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr

A simple homemade pasta.

Yields 2-3


  • 250 g fine durum semolina flour
  • Approx 100 mls warm water (maybe a little less, maybe a little more - depends on the weather, humidity.. Massimo says you need to make the pasta a few times to get to know the "feel" of the correct consistency)
  • About 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled but not chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 jar high quality tomato sauce
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Heap the flour on a work surface. Make a well in the flour mound, add most of the water in the well and slowly incorporate the water using a fork or a finger. Incorporate only a tiny amount of the flour by making a circular motion with either the fork or the finger and bringing a little bit of the flour in on each round. When the mixture is too dry add in some more water.
  2. You will have a dough that is a little bit crumbly. Gather the dough in your hands and knead until you have a dough ball that is not too dry and not too wet. Now, knead the dough, making sure to push it on the work surface with the heel of your hand to stretch the dough. You should knead this for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Form small logs with the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently fry the garlic.
  5. Add the tomatoes, add salt and pepper and allow to simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes on a low heat. Add the sauce and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Continue making your pasta: Cut dough logs into 4 pieces and roll under the palm of your hand to create a log that is the thickness of your little finger.
  7. Line up the thin logs (4-5 at a time) and with a sharp knife, cut tiny pieces, about 1cm long.
  8. With your thumb, drag the pieces of dough across a wooden cutting board to form tiny curls.
  9. Cook in boiling, salted water until they float to the surface.
  10. Toss cooked pasta in the tomato sauce and serve.


Recipe Notes

The prep time includes the resting time for the pasta dough.



Well gosh! We made our own pasta! With a sprinkle of parmesan and some fresh basil, this was a lovely simple comfort meal on a cold autumn night.  I know the boys loved it because some of them ate their portions on the way home from school 😉  One of my little chefs even tried to make his own pasta when he got home using regular flour – now that’s what I call motivated 🙂

Thank you so much Massimo for your time and patience with these guys – it’s always a pleasure having you and we can’t wait to see what you come up with the next time you come!

Watch Massimo make pasta on a recent trip to Italy here.  For the tomato sauce recipe, watch here.

If you live in Toronto and would like details about Massimo’s Italian Supper Club, click here.

These two recipes are so easy that I am submitting them to the HostelBookers Backpacker recipes contest. I can’t think of a better way to make new friends in a Hostel kitchen than to make pasta and pasta sauce from scratch!


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38 Responses to Les Petits Chefs make pasta with Massimo Bruno

  1. Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris October 19, 2011 at 06:38 #

    Good for Massimo, and you..What a great teacher you are!! Those boys must LOVE you !! and the dish looks perfect to me!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 30, 2011 at 09:51 #

      Well, it’s nice for me to connect with the boys outside the classroom – that’s why I love this club!

  2. Liz October 19, 2011 at 07:31 #

    What an amazing experience for those boys! I bet they were thrilled with the results….nothing can beat the taste/texture of homemade pasta! Love the photos, too~

  3. Mr. Neil October 19, 2011 at 08:01 #

    First, I believe Mr. Neil deserves credit for INTRODUCING Mardi to the Massimo’s experience. 🙂

    Second, not even a mention of the homemade pasta I produce… 🙁

    Looks wonderful – and screaming for a Chianti Riserva, of course. Nice acid and lighter-body wine will go well with the tomato sauce. Personally, I would not go for the “Super Tuscans” here, or anything heavier. If you don’t have a Chianti handy, my alternate would be a granache/garnacha-based wine. Or if you’re in America/Australia and really are in a pint, try a Pinot Noir. Avoid the big bold Shirazes, please. (A South African old-style Pinotage might be an intriguing combo…)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 19, 2011 at 08:03 #

      Actually the first time we ate at Massimo’s we were invited there by Suresh @spotlightcity 😉 And really it’s been so long since you made any from scratch …… We might have to remedy that soon!

      • Mr. Neil October 19, 2011 at 17:40 #

        Oh dear me – I DO stand corrected. Of course…big mea culpa, Suresh deserves the kudos!

        I guess it’s just all the meals I’ve paid for SINCE then that clouded my memory. 🙂

  4. Jenn@Baking Jenn's Blog October 19, 2011 at 08:28 #

    Aw, yum! It looks great!

  5. Nava Krishnan October 19, 2011 at 10:49 #

    The recipe looks so tempting, though its called easy homemade pasta, I am not sure whether I can make it at home myself.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 19, 2011 at 10:51 #

      Well honestly, if these little guys can make it in the science lab in under an hour, you can too!

  6. Jill Colonna October 19, 2011 at 10:55 #

    Oh, I wish I lived in Toronto. The more I read your posts I want to go there! That hidden restau looks fantastic and what a lab, as you say. I love making tagliatelle at home with my girls but the cavatelli looks so much fun with all the rolling. They’d love it. I bet Massimo’s tastes nearly as good as Mr. Neil’s pasta. 😉

  7. Curt October 19, 2011 at 11:04 #

    What a fabulous pasta dish. I applaud the talent that goes into this!

  8. NLM-50+ and on the Run October 19, 2011 at 11:35 #

    Oh, yum! I haven’t made pasta for years, but this looks too good NOT to try. (Although it sure would be nice to have a handsome Italian chef for “guidance,” lol.

    Thanks for posting!

  9. amelia from z tasty life October 19, 2011 at 15:17 #

    how adorable are those little chefs??? and what a great teacher you are for bringing in a real chef to teach them how to make pasta. I loved this post. The world needs more teachers like you!

  10. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. October 19, 2011 at 18:49 #

    Oh, how cute is their pasta?! I love that it is not perfect! It looks delicious either way!

  11. Paula October 19, 2011 at 23:09 #

    I love the look of Les Petits Chefs cavatelli pasta and I love how eager they are to learn. You can tell that they are by the photos, elbows on the counter, leaning forward, listening intently and eager to participate.
    I remember the pizza post with Massimo and it is just awesome that he came back to class to *work with* Les Petits Chefs once again.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 30, 2011 at 09:49 #

      Oh there was a LOT of eagerness in there! The boys love cooking and they love Massimo too!

  12. Stephanie October 20, 2011 at 14:47 #

    I love homemade pasta! I usually cheat though and use the kitchen aid attachment pasta press so that I can make it on weeknights. I want to try it this way though because shaping it looks so satisfying

  13. Simply Life October 20, 2011 at 17:32 #

    wow! what a meal! I’ve been wanting to make my own pasta but after my first disaster I stopped trying…maybe I’ll have give this recipe a try!

  14. Melissa@EyesBigger October 20, 2011 at 21:28 #

    hahaha… I BET they had a great time! Looking at the photos of them mixing their flour and water reminded me of me and my little brother playing with our mashed potatoes and gravy as kids. I just love the Petits Chefs. Jamie Oliver is nuts if he doesn’t come join in the fun!!

  15. visda October 21, 2011 at 20:07 #

    wow! what a fun experience for these kids. Your pictures make me want to make fresh pasta right away. Great tempting post. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction October 26, 2011 at 10:38 #

    Perfect! This reminds me that I’ve never actually made homemade cavatelli. Your chefs did a brilliant job! Thanks for getting your petits chefs involved with this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp challenge!

  17. penny aka jeroxie October 31, 2011 at 05:37 #

    love making pasta and good to see the kids hard at work.


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