The Impastable Dream
You could say I'm on a roll today.
After making crackers, I decided to make more pasta since I polished off the last of last weekend's batch a couple nights ago.
But I thought I'd do something a little different.
The other day, as I was thinking about cooking projects, I thought of several potential variations on pasta that I wanted to try, starting with a spinach pasta that used some of last year's farmers' market spinach in the dough.
So I thawed the spinach in the refrigerator overnight and then pureed it with an egg this morning to add to the flour and salt.
That glorious shade of green worked its way through the dough as I mixed it, offering a striking contrast to the basic past dough recipe (made with unbleached flour this time).
I wrapped up the doughs and set them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before I was ready to work with them again. Dividing each dough in half, I rolled out half of each into thin sheets.
My idea was this: if it's possible to sandwich herbs between layers of pasta and roll them out again to a thin sheet that presses the herbs more deeply into the dough, why not make two different doughs, sandwich them back to back (with a very light spot-brushing of water between the layers to keep them sticking together), and roll them out again to get a back-to-back sort of pasta?
Well, it worked. One side is the pale golden of the egg-enriched unbleached flour pasta, and the other displays the rich green (covered here in flour) of the spinach. Wow!
I cut the dough into long ribbons to dry, but I also played with some different shapes, twisting a few short lengths into bowties and cutting some squares that I folded corner (almost) to corner for a change of pace.
Of course, I needed to roll out and cut the remaining pasta dough, too, so I ended up with a cooling rack covered with spinach pasta ribbons and another laden with plain pasta, all set out to dry overnight.
The shaped pasta beckoned to me, though, and while I could let the little bowties dry, I knew the folded pieces wouldn't dry well due to their thickness. So I pulled out walnuts, local garlic, some homemade oven-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese to throw together a variation on my usual walnut pasta dish.
The pasta cooked quickly, rising to the surface of the water as it finished, and I sauteed the garlic with the walnuts, adding the tomatoes before topping the pasta with it all... a rich, satisfying meal.
I tell myself that I don’t always have time to make pasta from scratch, but more and more I realize that actually, I do. Only a few minutes are needed to make the dough, maybe ten to fifteen minutes more to roll it out and cut out the ribbons (or make the other shapes), and then I have a stash of pasta to get me through the week. The difference in taste is so worth it, too: when the pasta is very fresh (not even dried), it cooks in no time flat and has an almost creamy texture when I bite into it.
What's impossible -- or even improbable -- about that?