Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Adventure in Homemade Pasta

In my quest to use the Swiss chard that has been so prolific in my garden I made homemade green pasta a couple weeks ago, inspired by Kate's post earlier this month.

This was my very first time making pasta. A few years back I tried some fresh pasta from the grocery store and was so underwhelmed that for quite a while I didn't really see the merit in taking the time to make my own. I have now seen the error of my ways - this was delicious!

While they are nice you don't need a pasta roller to make pasta, just know hand rolled noodles will be a little thicker than those a roller would produce. I did this entirely by hand. You can definitely do the kneading in a heavy-duty stand mixer but I find kneading therapeutic and I like to do brand new (to me) doughs by hand the first time so I get a feel for them. I did use eggs in this recipe, although I am going to try a vegan version next time with flax seed. I'd like to try drying it, but I do think I'd rather do that with a vegan variation. Also, it will probably dry more readily with thinner noodles and after this experiment I can say that I would definitely use a pasta roller... 

Homemade Green Pasta
Serves 8-12. If you don't have fresh greens you can make this from frozen, thawed greens, just use the 7 3/4 oz squeezed dry amount as your guide. 

1lb 4oz stemmed Swiss chard or other dark leafy green (weighed after removing stems), chopped
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
2-5 tablespoons water, as needed

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Blanch the chard 30 seconds - 1 minute, until bright green and just tender. Drain immediately and allow to cool then squeeze out as much liquid as possible (you should have about 7 3/4 oz once blanched and squeezed dry). I like to use a clean cotton kitchen towel for squeezing greens dry.

Finely chop 3 ounces of chard and set aside. Place the remaining chard and all four eggs in blender and blend until smooth. 

Mix all the dry ingredients together and pour onto counter (you can mix it in the bowl too, but doing it on the counter is fun!). Make a well in center of flour and pour in the egg mixture. Work flour in to eggs using a fork until you get a loose dough. Add the chopped chard and, using your hands, continue working flour into dough. Add additional water a tablespoon at a time as need to incorporate all the flour. You should have a tacky but not sticky dough. Knead dough 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (it will not be perfectly smooth due to the chopped chard). 

Shape it into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and let rest 30 minutes. 

After resting your dough divide it into four sections. Liberally flour your work surface. Working with one section at a time, roll it out as thin as possible into as even a rectangle as you can manage (you don't want too many weird edges). Cut into whatever shape you like. I used my pastry cutter on the first two sections, however it is just not sharp enough to handle pasta dough, so I abandoned it for a knife on the last two sections. I would like to note that as cutting surfaces go, granite is "EVIL" as far as you knifes are concerned, to quote Alton Brown.

It did make for pretty noodles though. I ended up cutting it into about one inch lengths just prior to cooking.

Once you have all your noodles cut sprinkle liberally with flour to prevent sticking and set aside to rest and dry a touch while you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add noodles to rapidly boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes, or just until al dente; fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than does dry. It will float, like ravioli. Drain pasta and immediately toss with sauce of choice. Serve hot.

A totally homegrown, homemade meal. 

Homegrown Swiss chard in homemade pasta, homemade pesto frozen from last summer's homegrown basil, homegrown tomatoes, and served with homemade Italian seitan sausages. If you have seitan sausages, pesto, and fresh pasta in your freezer you can have this entire dinner on the table in about 15 minutes. Healthy, fast, and entirely homemade. You can't beat that.


Kate said...

Lily, your pasta dish looks awesome and delicious! I love the viral nature of these green noodles! The idea just keeps spreading and mutating. Thanks for sharing.

Tara said...

Pretty photos! The pasta looks wonderful.