It’s time for July’s Daring Kitchen Challenge! You may have noticed there was no June challenge…because June just got away from me and I completely forgot to do it. So, I was determined to take on July. Then I saw that July was Patterned Pasta, posed by Dulcie, from thetastetrail.com blog. And I realized it had been years and years since I last made fresh pasta and I’m pretty sure I was still in culinary school at the time. So, as luck would have it, I don’t own a pasta roller of any kind. And I panicked because kneading by hand AND rolling really dense dough it intimidating. So, I put out the call and thankfully it was answered – one of my lovely friends was kind enough to lend me her Kitchen Aid pasta roller set. After picking it up yesterday, I sat down to decide what types of pasta to make. You see, in order to make patterned pasta, you need to make pasta in different colors! Twice the challenge! I wound up veering a bit from the pasta recipes shared by Dulcie because they called for 00 flour, which I hadn’t heard of previously. I did see it could be easily ordered online, but because I knew waiting for flour to arrive by mail would only surely lead to it being August (if not September) before I got around to making it, I set off to find a recipe using all-purpose flour. Because I have a 20 lb bag in my pantry. And I knew if I wound up loving the whole homemade pasta thing, I’d want a more easily accessible ingredient. This search led me to seriouseats.com, where I read up on homemade pasta, the various ways to combine the basic ingredients – flour, eggs, and salt – and found recipes for colored pasta. Besides not having the pasta roller, I also don’t own a juicer, so I knew achieving some of the colors suggested would be tough, as well. Thankfully, Serious Eats offered options that just required roasting or boiling and then pureeing your veggies.
On to the pasta. I wound up making a traditional egg pasta dough, plus beet, carrot and spinach pastas. I used these to create little patterned bowties that I served with homemade garlic scape pesto, meatballs, sauteed tomatoes and beet greens and I have to say I think we were all pretty happy with the results. After spending most of the afternoon working on this challenge, I can appreciate the simplicity of a nice plain pasta and how “easy” it really would be to make going forward. I just might see a pasta roller of my very own in the near future…
The Pasta Doughs
all adapted from http://www.seriouseats.com
Classic Fresh Egg Pasta (all doughs use this base recipe)
5 oz. all-purpose flour
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Beet Colored Pasta
3.5 oz trimmed beets (use reserved beet greens to serve with your pasta)
To make beet puree, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add beets and cook for 40-45 minutes or until beets are fork-tender. Strain and allow to cool. Use a paper towel to remove the skins and discard. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Following the recipe below, simply add 2 tbsp. beet puree into the flour well with the rest of the ingredients. NOTE: You should wear gloves during kneading or risk beet-colored hands for the next few days. My cutting board cleaned up with no problem.
Orange Colored Pasta
2 roasted carrots AND 1 tbsp tomato puree
OR 2 tbsp carrot juice
Roast two carrots on a foil-lined sheetpan for 25 minutes at 375° until fork-tender. Puree in a blender or food processor with a tbsp of tomato puree. Incorporate 2 tbsp of the puree into the pasta dough along with the other ingredients.
Green Colored Pasta
5 oz baby spinach
Bring a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice to have on hand for shocking the spinach. Add spinach to boiling water and cook for 15-30 seconds. Strain and immediately add to cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve the green color. Once cooled, puree using a blender or food processor and strain excess liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Add 2 tbsp of puree in with the rest of the ingredients.
To Make the Dough: On a large, clean work surface, pour flour in a mound. Make a well in the center about 4 inches wide. Pour whole egg, egg yolks, and salt into well and, using a fork, beat thoroughly. When combined, gradually incorporate flour into the eggs until a wet, sticky dough has formed.
Using a bench scraper, scrape excess dough from fork and fingers. Begin to fold additional flour into the dough with the bench knife, turning the dough roughly 45 degrees each time, until dough feels firm and dry, 2 to 5 minutes.
Press the heel of your hand into the ball of dough, pushing forward and down. Rotate the ball 45 degrees and repeat. Continue until dough develops a smooth, elastic texture. If dough feels too wet, add flour in 1 teaspoon increments. If dough feels too dry, add water a little at a time. I used a small bowl of water and just sprinkled on using my fingers.
Wrap ball of dough tightly in plastic wrap and rest on counter for at least 30 minutes.
To Roll the Pasta: Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a tray or cutting board and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap rested dough and cut in half. Set one half on work surface and re-wrap remaining dough. With your hands, flatten the dough into an oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick.
Set pasta maker to widest setting and pass dough 2 times through the machine at this setting.
Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold both ends in so that they overlap into one third the width, trying not to incorporate too much air into the folds. Adjust to narrow the setting on your roller by one notch. Pass through the rollers 2 additional times.
Narrow the setting by 1 notch and repeat the above steps, rolling twice and then folding into thirds. Continue until you’ve gotten to your desired thickness. On the roller I used, I went until notch 5. It should now be very delicate and elastic to the touch, and slightly translucent.
Place rolled dough onto a work surface or baking sheet lightly dusted with flour or lined with parchment paper, folding the dough over as necessary so that it fits; sprinkle with flour or line with parchment between folds to prevent sticking.
Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel to prevent drying, then repeat rolling and folding process with remaining dough.
At this point, you can cut the noddles however you’d like and get ready to cook. If you’d like to make the patterned noodles, just make sure to cover these well, so that they don’t dry out and move to rolling the remaining colors.
To Cut Noodles for Stripes: Adjust pasta machine to noodle setting of your choice. I used fettuccine. Divide colored doughs in half, wrapping the dough you’re not working with. Working one dough segment at a time, feed dough through the pasta-cutter, creating stripes of color. Lay stripes on a tea towel and cover as your work.
Once you’ve cut all of your stripes, lay them however you’d like over your plain egg noodle sheets. Using a rolling pin, lightly press the stripes in. Switch back to your regular roller and roll through your striped dough. Repeat with remaining dough.
To Make Polka Dot Pasta: A really easy way to use up pasta that didn’t quite roll out correctly is to make polka dots. Simply pull off small bits of colored dough, roll into a ball and press onto plain sheets of pasta. As with the striped pasta, use your rolling pin to lightly press the dots on and then roll through your roller.
Making Bowties: This was much easier than I anticipated! I just cut my dough into small rectangles and pressed together in the center, making sure to keep the pattern on the outside so you would still see it.
Pasta can be frozen directly on the baking sheet, transferred to a zipper-lock freezer bag, and stored in the freezer for up to three weeks before cooking. Cook frozen pasta directly from the freezer.
To Cook: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta, stir gently and cook until noodles are just set with a definite bite, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain, toss with sauce, and serve.