Happy Memorial Day! Instead of grilling at the park like many Brooklynites, I made pasta today. This is not one of those things you want to start when you’re already hungry. Especially the first few times you make pasta by hand, you want to give yourself a couple hours, and maybe invite a few friends to help, to laugh when someone makes a mess, and to enjoy dinner with. I don’t mean for this to sound super scary – it’s really an easy process once you get the hang of it. And you don’t need an special pasta rolling equipment either. A rolling pin (or a wine bottle), some parchment paper and a pizza cutter (or knife) do just fine.
Please don’t be discouraged. I have only made pasta a few times myself, and each time I learn a lot, so now I’m pretty good at it. And the taste of homemade pasta is really incomparable, not to mention the satisfaction of using your hands to create something amazing. However, if you’re just not ready to gild that lily yet, pick up some high quality fresh pasta and you’ve got yourself a super quick 1-pot meal.
So, away we go! To start, mix your flours, salt and poppy seeds together on a large clean surface. Make a well in the middle that’s big enough for a few eggs and some oil and water. Don’t make the mistake of making the well too small like I did – or the egg will fall out and gush liquid everywhere. This is why I don’t have a good picture of this step…sorry about that. Moving on, use a fork, then your hands, to work the egg, water and oil into the flour until you have a shaggy mass of dough. It will be dry and stiff.
Knead the dough about 10 minutes until you get a smooth ball. It will still be dry and fairly stiff.
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest. I gave mine 30 minutes, because during that time I was shelling the peas.
Fold the dough horizontally over itself a few times. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, slice the pasta into thin noodles. I found that it was easiest to cut a few strips, then unfold them, then cut a few more. When unfolding, you can lightly pinch the folds to de-crease them and help the noodles hold together. I like my noodles thin, but the thinner I cut, the harder they are to unroll and keep in one piece. Keep that in mind when deciding what size to cut your pasta.
Now you have homemade pasta! Cook it in boiling water for 5 minutes max, until the pasta is no longer doughy. Add the peas when you have about 3 minutes left (even less if you are using frozen peas).
You can use this process to make any kind of pasta. Change up the flour (just be sure that part of the flour has gluten), knead in other seeds, herbs, spices, etc. Create different shapes. Experiment – then comment and tell us all about it.
Quinoa Poppy Seed Pasta with Peas
3/4 c. quinoa flour
3/4 c. semolina flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 T. poppy seeds
2 T. olive oil
2 T. water
1 lb. shell peas (or 1 cup if they are already shelled)
2 T. butter
2 T. fresh, chopped herbs (I used thyme, but mint would be great)
a few pinches of salt
to serve: freshly grated parmesan and lemon wedges
Mix the flours, salt and poppy seeds together on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle and break the eggs into it. Add the oil and water to the well and work it into a shaggy mass of dough.
Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, dry and stiff. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes, during which time you can shell your peas if needed.
Lay the ball of dough on a sheet of parchment paper and push down on it to flatten. Lay another sheet of parchment on top, and roll as thin as you can. Peel off the top sheet of paper.
Fold the dough onto itself a few times and, using a knife or pizza cutter, cut into thin strips. Unfold the strips into noodles.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water, then add the pasta. After about 2 minutes, add the peas. Boil for 3 more minutes then drain. Transfer the pasta back into the pot, add the butter and herbs. Toss to combine and melt the butter.
Serve topped with grated cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.