As I have continued in my journey of learning how to get the best flavor out of food, time always seems to be a factor. The time between harvest and being on your table is one time factor. Try a fresh, “new crop” apple from your local produce stand next to a last season apple on clearance right now, and you will find that time effects taste and texture quite dramatically.
When watching certain cooking shows, or reading most cook books, you will find many recipes that try to cover up the lack of time most home cooks have by using many store bought ingredients to give that “long simmered” taste in a short amount of time.
Time is one of the biggest taste factors in our kitchen, and it is what so many of us feel we don’t have. We live hurried lives, and we often don’t even realize it because everyone lives their life just like us. What we put on our table reflects this lifestyle.
As I have tried to go back more and more to food in it’s most homemade, nourishing state, I have found that at almost every step, doing it myself saves me money, and costs me time. Making your own pasta is no exception. It saves me quite a bit of money (compared to buying brown rice pasta), and it costs me a little work and time.
The end result is a rustic pasta, soaked for better nutrition, that all of us enjoy. The same as white flour pasta? No. Delicious? We think so. My two year old eagerly looks forward to pasta days, and my husband always appreciates it too. Don’t expect the same culinary experience of eating durum pasta, but enjoy the hardiness of whole wheat and expect it to be more filling.
I am so glad that I have found it possible to make a soaked pasta, because who wants to give up pasta? For a while, I thought that pasta could only be a compromise food, so I am very happy to find a nourishing solution to a favorite food. To read more about why I choose to soak my grains and flours read part one and part two of my posts on soaking grains.
Many Italian families still make pasta every day. I figure I can manage once a week and I have for the most part. If I am especially tired, I do something easier. Italian families also make pasta together. It’s a community, family project that doesn’t isolate the cook in her/his kitchen. It’s a time of busy fingers and conversation and laughter. Elena is only two but already she is learning to enjoy making pasta with me. She sits in her little sit at the table and I give her a small piece of dough, which she tries to roll out as best as she can. I meanwhile roll out my piece and cut them out, handing her pieces to place on the cooling racks I use to dry them on.
Cooking should be a family project whenever possible. Turn off that TV, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, which in my book, include making homemade pasta.
Rustic, Soaked Whole Wheat Pasta
For a while I was rolling my dough as thin as possible. This produced a wonderful texture, but the pasta fell apart very easily. If you leave it thicker, you will find that it is a hardier pasta, but will stay together better. You decide how you want it. I should really call this “poor man’s pasta” because it doesn’t include any eggs. I also was able to make this with spelt flour, though it is a little harder to work with.
3-3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (try to find wheat berries with a high protein content)
1 cup of warm water
2 tablespoons vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
Olive oil for bowl
In a large bowl, combine three cups of flour with the water and vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon, until it becomes too stiff to stir. Dump out onto a floured surface, and knead for ten minutes, adding in more flour if needed, to create a stiff dough.
Wash out your bowl and dry and drizzle a little olive oil in. Place you dough in the bowl, turning over so that the dough has olive oil on both sides. Cover well, and leave out on the counter over night.
The next day, separate your dough into four balls. Roll out each piece of dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness (read note above), using flour on your surface and rolling pin, and cut into thin strips. I find a pizza cutter very helpful for this step.
To cook, bring a large pot of water to boil, and salt liberally. When the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta, slowly to the pot. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and soft. I find that the texture of the pasta better when cooked longer. Serve with your favorite sauce.
This post is part of Kitchen Tip Tuesday!