whole wheat pasta
Division of labor is an efficient method of production but it can also lead
to extreme wealth disparities in an advanced (read "not really") industrial
society. In the kitchen this is less serious, but can leave cooking partners
with big holes in their skill set. Ms-ani is the undisputed dough queen in the
dr bob cooking team, and dr bob is guilty of deferring to her in this area,
which means fresh pasta from scratch expects her loving care to produce. Which
is why dr bob waited for her to disappear to early evening fitness class to
challenge himself with this experience. The only way to overcome the fear of
failure threshold is to jump right in and go for it.
We had seen Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) make a simple truffle butter
noodle dish that afternoon on the Food Network. The semester had just
ended, grades were in, and it was time to produce the annual Christmas card days
before the big event, so there may have been a bit of procrastination hidden in
this sudden desire to master a new technique without any guidance from the
expert, who if present, would probably not have let bob do it all himself
anyway. Sometimes the sink or swim approach works best. Of course it could have
been a disaster too, but in fact while fearing screwing up this seemingly simple
process at every step, it turned out to be a breeze.
While Ina had used a wider pasta noodle that she badly mispronounced, our KitchenAid pasta rollers only do lasagna (uncut), spaghetti or fettuccine, so
bob went for fettuccine. Whole wheat because of our 21st century obsession with
trying our best to eat nutritiously so our increasingly near future years as
part of Americas aging population would have some better chance of being less
painful healthwise. No guarantees of course. We had already canceled our long
term care insurance, hoping that we don't linger. One of the many adaptations
made to accommodate our unchosen state as a single income couple, not quite
reduced to road kill on the side of the global financial highway like many
others much less fortunate.
We went with the tried and true Lidia recipe from Lidia's Family Table, but
bob had to fake it with the loose approach he took, the KitchenAid method
instead of using our lower power and quantity food processor that we had bought
in our early years when we had not felt wealthy enough to go for the standard
model. Since Lidia's instructions were based on the food processor, this gave
bob the freedom to do his own thing.
This does not really require as big a time investment as one might think. The
payoff is a delicious result that makes a great foundation for a pasta dish, and
you know exactly what is in the product. You can do it before dinner just for
two, freezing half for a future meal, or impress a few friends with a minimum of
effort, relatively speaking.
ingredients (for 1 lb pasta)
- 1 c all-purpose flour (we used Italian type 00 flour, available in Italian
- 1 c whole-wheat flour (King Arthur from my baby brother's town in VT)
- 2 whole large eggs (from happy chickens if possible)
- 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 T water, maybe 4, maybe even 5 depending on the flour
- Dump the flour in the KitchenAid and give it a whirl using the normal
- Break the eggs into a bowl, add the oil and 2 T of the water and beat up
the eggs with a fork or whatever.
- Slowly poor the eggs into the flour with the mixer running, and let it
go a minute or two until it breaks up into little clumps of dough, adding 1
T of water and then maybe another to remove the dryness without making it
too wet. Add slowly till the dough begins to hold together in a blob. Then
switch to the dough hook and let the machine do the kneeding for a few
- If you don't have this terrific kitchen tool, no problem. Gather the stuff in your hands into a ball, press together and try
to do your best imitation of kneeding that you can muster. bob pressed on it
with the palms of his hand, flattening it, then folding over and repeating a
few times. Not very elegant and certainly not resembling the rhythmic motion
of the pasta queen, but it got the job done.
- Flatten it a bit and wrap in plastic wrap to let rest for 30 minutes.
bob did not read very carefully so he put it in the fridge as a result of
residual pie dough memories. Lidia says rest it at room temperature, and
roll it out at room temperature, but bob yanked it from the fridge and
charged ahead with the rolling, no problem.
- First he scattered some flour out on our plastic dough matt, cut off
about an eighth of the dough, and pressed it flat with the palms of his
hands so it would feed through the KitchenAid pasta rollers (open as wide as
possible) with a little coaxing. bob folded it over and repassed it through
4 to 6 times, folding each time but not always, then right to the 1-2-3-4-5
successive thickness passages. [We do notch 6 for lasagna noodlesso that
we can do many layers of paper thin pasta leading to a delicate result.]
- Each maxi-noodle is laid out on a kitchen towel and covered with another
towel as we go along.
- Once all the pasta is rolled, move right onto the pasta cutting. Put a
little flour under the cutters and dance the cut noodles around a bit in the
flour and then set aside with a little corn meal toss for good measure. We
got about 9 noodles from our inexpert first time division of dough, each
resulting in a little clump of fettuccine.
Lidia's Family Table, whole wheat pasta p.171, then pp.158-164 for
detailed instructions with photos.
- We served half this bob pasta with the Barefoot Contessa's
Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.
Ina's truffle butter pasta sauce, reworked by ms_ani: 6 T unsalted butter, 2
T of white truffle oil, some few pinches of truffle salt to taste, 1/2 c
heavy cream, 1/2 t salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, 3 T fresh
chopped chives, 3 oz thinly shaved parmigiano (use a veggie peeler). Mash
the room temperature butter, truffle oil and truffle salt together to make
your own truffle butter. Heat up the cream in a nonstick chef's pan and melt
in the butter, add in the salt and pepper and the chives if you have them,
we tossed in an insufficient amount of leftover chopped green onions for a
flash of color at least. Drain the pasta al dente and dump into the pan, we
added a few T of finely grated parmigiano, then a hit of freshly grated
pepper on each serving with the parmigiano flakes. [This is as dangerous as
Fettuccine Alfredo. Don't repeat often.]
- If bob could manage this whole grain fresh pasta thing, so can you. Give
it a try.
- Illustrations available.