Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Harvest Meal for a Gray & Dreary Day


It's been raining steadily for four days, and the forecast promises more of the same. I worked outside in the garden for a good part of Sunday nonetheless, but I just couldn't face the steady drizzle on Monday. Instead, I did my best to remind myself of the virtues of living in an area with precipitation sufficient such that I almost never have to water my garden. And I caught up on housework, which generally falls to the absolute bottom of my to-do list once gardening season begins. Yardwork or housework, but not both - that's my motto at the moment.

In addition, I took the opportunity today to make my own version of Maya's stunning homemade spinach pasta (much prettier than mine, I might add.) The arugula sylvetta is going gangbusters out there. It's one of my favorite crops because I hardly need to do anything other than harvest it once it establishes itself. And I love the flavor. I also collected some chives, sage, a tiny bit of baby spinach, and a few ramp leaves. So with our own eggs and our own garden fresh greens, I whipped up a batch of very rustic pasta, using an organic wheat flour that includes the germ but not the bran. Homemade pasta is something I know how to make. But somehow it just doesn't happen as often as it should. So thanks, Maya, for the nudge and for giving me a good rainy day project.

This mound of flour has ground up arugula and other greens already in it. I dried them as well as I could, then put them through the food processor with most of the flour. The eggs are fresh from our hens.


Blend, blend, blend


The ball of dough after a few minutes of kneading by hand. I probably should have added an extra dose of flour to the dough. The herbs added quite a bit of moisture, so the dough was pretty sticky.



There's not a huge amount of precision when it comes to making your own pasta. A general rule of thumb is to use 2 cups (27 cl) of flour to four eggs. But since the size of eggs vary and the moisture content of flour also varies with the ambient humidity, it's always a subjective, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants endeavor. I added about 2 cups, or 4 ounces by weight, of raw herbs and greens, and ended up incorporating quite a bit more flour during the kneading stage. After kneading, the dough needs a little rest in the fridge before shaping it. A pasta roller makes the shaping a breeze. (I picked mine up, with a linguine/fettuccine cutting attachment, at the thrift store for $8.) But you can roll it by hand with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife if you need to. I did that many times before finding a cheap pasta roller.

These chewy, dense noodles cooked in no time, and didn't last much longer than that. All they needed was some olive oil with sauteed garlic and a bare grating of Parmesan cheese. I can tell that fresh herb noodles are going to become a springtime tradition for us. It's a dish that can be pulled together with what few things the garden and hens give up generously at such an early date.

9 comments:

Jessica said...

Wow...I gotta try that one-a these days...

Maya said...

Yum, that looks fabulous. I've gotta try the arugula variation. I love arugula and always try to preserve some arugula pesto for the winter, but arugula noodles sounds even better! It is so funny how we all seem to inspire one another. I suspect I got my original pasta inspiration from Saara over at Feasting in the Skagit Foodshed. She was using nettles, I used spinach and you use arugula. Vive la difference!

Rick said...

Wow those look great. Do you ever dry fresh made pasta? I would live to have a bunch of home made pasta in the pantry and since I have chickens I have the eggs but I have heard there can be issues with hme dried pasta.

Kate said...

Jessica, do try it. It's a fun thing to experiment with in the kitchen.

Maya, isn't the blogosphere great for inspiration? I was hoping to have nettles this year, but the seeds I sowed don't seem to have done much. Maybe next year.

Rick, fresh pasta never hangs around long enough in my house to get dried. I have made tortellini and ravioli at times, and then frozen them. But drying? No. "Issues with home dried pasta" I'm sure there could be. But I'm also sure it is or was routine in Italy for hundreds of years. If you have your own eggs and a smidgen of common sense, I'm sure you could do it safely. Sometimes there's too much alarmism around food in our culture. And it's usually alarmist in all the wrong directions.

Lily Girl said...

I was inspired by your post and made homemade pasta for the first time last week. I used swiss chard from my garden and since I pureed 2/3 of it with the eggs before incorporating it turned out super green. And super delicious. What took me so long?! I don't have a pasta machine so it turned out a touch thicker than I would have liked, but still great. Thanks for sharing :)

Kate said...

Lily, that's awesome! I actually like thicker-than-store-bought noodles. What did you put on the noodles once they were cooked? Did you get a picture? Are you going to blog it? I'd love to see how yours turned out.

-Kate

randombitsofnonsense said...

Just ran into your blog via path to freedom! Thanks for the fantastic inspitation of making my own pasta--I sense a project for dinner tonight!

Lily Girl said...

Kate - I did take pictures and I am going to blog it. I'll do it this week and let you know when it's up. I dressed it with pesto (frozen from last summer's basil bounty) and fresh tomatoes from our garden. It was yummy!

Kate said...

Lilygirl - cool! It's like a viral recipe. Please do let me know when your post is up.