July 22, 2012

Pasta play

Today we tried some kitchen craftiness, inspired by the post here over at Cafe Liz.

It's not too hard to make beetroot-red pasta. You roast the beetroot, make pasta dough (a generous serve per person is 1 egg and 100g Type '00' flour, whizzed in a food processor) - then add a slice of the ruby-red beetroot to the pasta dough in the food processor.

Add more flour until it no longer sticks like napalm to everything, and presto, red pasta dough.

Being a nerd, I wondered what I could use to make other colours. And I know a bunch of kids who would love this! Some of those kids have kids of their own, if you get what I mean. Having a reason to play with your food can be fun at any age.

I decided to see if I could make some fun multicoloured pasta with a basic dough and a few additions.

To start:
First I made a biggish batch of plain pasta dough, by dumping 500g '00' flour in a food processor and cracking in five large organic eggs. It works better if the eggs are at room temperature, if you remember...

I then divided my plain basic dough into five portions and started testing. I kept each portion wrapped in plastic wrap so that it didn't dry out before I was ready to rock and roll it out.

Here's what worked!

A handful of fresh parsley leaves, blanched for 1 minute in boiling water, then cooled by swirling in cold water. I squeezed the green lump of wilted leaves hard before adding it to the food processor and blending it with a portion of the basic dough. The dough looked freckly. I wrapped it up and left it in the fridge while making the other colours.

Take two: I picked two leaves of silverbeet (save the stems for something else), then chopped and blanched them for 1 minute as above. Cool, squeeze like mad to get the water out. Squeeze some more. This time I processed the leaves to a sludge in the food processor first with a dash of olive oil. Then I added a portion of the basic pasta dough, buzzed it up and added flour till it wasn't too sticky. (That was a guess: enough flour so it would not stick terribly to the plastic wrap seems to be about right.) Wrap it up and leave to rest.

This one was simple: just a scant teaspoon of turmeric added to a portion of the dough and a dash of olive oil to make it all come together.

For this I cut off a chunk of the yellow turmeric dough (about half), to which I added a 1/2 tablespoon of the beetroot juice from the roasting pan. So I had less orange and yellow, but that's fine.

A slice of beetroot (skinned), added to a portion of dough.

The fifth ball of dough stayed plain, to provide the base for squiggles and other sorts of fun times.

Rolling it was the fun part! This involved rolling sheets of each colour, cutting them into spaghetti with the cutter attachment, then pressing them into a flat piece of a different colour.

That was so much fun that we decided to try sticking two flat disks (just roughly hand flattened) together, end to end. Ran these slowly through the machine on a wide setting and they stuck and became two-tone pasta!

Someone got fancy and it became a patchwork of pasta blobs that got rolled and then sliced...

The silverbeet leaves made a better green because although they were softer and made the dough a bit wet, the green leached out and the whole sheet went evenly green. The parsley dough retained its freckly appearance throughout, which was fun too.

The beetroot fades a huge amount in cooking, and ended up a genteel shade of pink.

The turmeric stayed bright yellow and it really imparted a kick to the taste of the pasta! I quite liked that, just be aware of it when matching your sauce.

We made a simple vegetable sauce and cooked up a batch to enjoy. It was a colourful lunch!

* Post updated to add more images - Blogger updated the date stamp. We don't mind, do we?


Pigs and Bishops said...

That's wonderful. Stinging nettles (just the leaves, steamed or blanched then pureed in a food processor) would give you a vivid green. Or you could add nettle puree to sauteed onions and garlic for a bright green pesto to serve with beetroot pasta.

Textile Tragic said...

This makes me very happy to see. I grew up making pasta for special occasions, but it was always terribly serious--stressful even. I love your playful approach. Kids with kids of their own having fun is such a good thing.

Taccolina said...

Hi P and B, nettles is a good suggestion! We don't have any around here, but we have plenty of miscellaneous greens in the garden. Mmm.

Taccolina said...

Textile, oh dear - I always thought making pasta was fun. But then, I was taught by a bunch of 9-year olds, so I sort of took on their attitude. Let that handle rip!