Put some love in your dinner: Pasta!

Update: I’m refreshing this post from the old Chantilly website (our previous name for those new to the store). I’ve been getting into conversations about pasta again lately, and I wanted to share what I learned! One of these days, I’ll do a follow up post; probably when I make KD for the first time 😉 If you’re looking for any other older posts (I’ve been adding content to the site for 3 years now!), try searching for your topic of choice, you might be surprised! -Nicole

So I  got a  big “wish list” item recently; a pasta roller. I’ve been talking about wanting one all summer long, just waiting for a cool enough evening. And room in the budget; a kitchen shop is a dangerous place to work when you love food. I’ve heard people describe pasta rollers as “frustrating”, “easy”, “impossible” and “so simple a child could do it”. Since a lot of people I know still eat KD, I went in assuming there was a little more to it. I considered buying the pasta attachment for my Cuisinart stand mixer, but I love ravioli so I decided to get the wider hand roller.

Turns out, I didn’t get to use the stand mixer at all. Most of the food blogs and recipes suggested that mixing by hand provided the best result. I wanted to test one variable at a time (science background), so I mixed everything by hand before putting it through the rolling machine. Considering how easy it was to mix and kneed, I think using the machine would be overkill.

Moving right along, the recipe from the user manual of my new Josef Strauss Gourmet gives quantities and proportions per person. One egg to 125g of flour (weight is so much more precise than volume, especially in a humid environment like Revelstoke!). So, we decided to make three batches, since there were three of us enjoying the meal. One was pure unbleached flour, one was 100% whole wheat flour, and the third was a 50/50 mix of the two. Was it really just as tasty to eat healthy?

pastacollage1

Now, beyond the basic recipe (from which I plan to experiment on a grande scale as the fall kicks in), it is important to note a few details. The egg should room temperature. I warmed mine in a small bowl of luke warm water. To mix with a cold egg creates problems; maybe I’ll do comparison photos one night. To bump it up to the next level, get farm fresh eggs. That morning, if possible. For tonight, we used brown Cooper’s eggs in the large  flat. Glen got a little playful and added some coarse salt and a touch of oil to the 50/50 mix. We were having too much fun mixing the pasta and I forgot to get more pictures; I’ll do a progress shot next time.

pastatypes

The two bowls in the middle were the 100% cooked in two separate batches. This was not on purpose, pasta just cooks too fast. The second half of the batch still needed to go through the roller. I could have hung the pasta somewhere to wait, but it seemed very delicate. I’m not sure if I could have rolled it more, but I’ve heard of pasta getting tough if you over-work it. It worked out, however, and we got to try some well cooked and some at a proper al dente. It’s tricky to know how long to cook fresh pasta; I’m used to tasting for crunchy bits.

On the left, you can see the 50/50 mix. The extra ingredients that Glen added seemed to help hold the pasta together, it rolled out beautifully. This time, I held the first half of the noodles while Glen and Ali rolled the other. Without all the hands, I could have hung the pasta somewhere to wait until it was all ready to cook.

On the far right is the 100% unbleached flour pasta. This was the closest in texture to store bought pasta, and very easy to handle.

pastacollage2

So, which was better? I don’t know that any of them won. For taste, I would say the mixed recipe, Glen’s additions added flavour to a tasty base. For health, the 100% had the clear advantage, and was delicious once you got used to the slightly gritty texture. For texture, the unbleached was the hands-down winner, but it feels irresponsible to allow a win without considering the health implications. Instead, I will take the deliciousness of the unbleached pasta as a challenge. Next time, we experiment with rice flour, quinoa flour, and kamut, all commonly found as ingredients in “healthier” pastas.

The clear lesson from this evening was that fresh pasta is a different experience than dry. It’s one of those foods where you can taste the love and time that went into it. This is why I say that pasta is simple, but not easy. If you keep the sauce basic (or made ahead), it makes for a fun night with friends and/or family!

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