Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When You Know the Recipe Must Be Wrong

It will have a deeper
color when cooked
It's not me.

Just a little while ago, I made spinach pasta. I've made it before; it's pretty easy. I wanted a challenge, so I decided to go for another color. Red, or reddish. You can make a red pasta with beets, or a less red one with carrots and tomato paste. I went for the carrots.

You start by dicing the carrots and simmering them in water until they're tender. You puree them, mix in some tomato paste, and then further cook it. The recipe I used said to cook it to a thick paste, which is what I had before anything went into the saucepan. I gently cooked it to drive off some moisture. Then I let it cool.

When I was ready to make the pasta, I beat my carrot mixture with three eggs and added that to 400 grams of flour. It made a pretty wet mixture. I didn't weight the carrot mixture, but it was certainly a greater volume that you would use for spinach, although it did replace an egg (but I'd bet it weighed more than 50 grams).

When I wrapped it in plastic, it was clear that it was the wettest dough I have ever made. Goopy. I had my doubts, but after letter it rest, I was able to knead it. It came together, for the moment at least. Then I let the dough rest again while I tidied up the kitchen.

Pasta dough usually doesn't
look quite like this
When I went to roll it out, it was certainly well hydrated. Not as goopy as before when it stuck to the plastic, but not the dough I expected. I was going to need to flour this one a lot. While I was rolling out sections, the remaining pieces slowly merged back together. The dough was also much more fragile, more prone to stretching in odd ways. The surface never really got smooth. All in all, this was very difficult dough to work, more akin to gnocchi dough than typical pasta dough.

But I rolled it out. I wanted to let it dry flat, since if I drape it over a rack, the bent tends to become a weak spot; not a problem if I'm cooking the pasta right away, occasionally one if I'm saving the pasta for later. But as this was fairly wet pasta, and it wasn't even separating properly, I heavily floured the strands as they came off the cutter before laying them on racks. Since the flour gets damp, I later tossed the pasta with more flour and then draped it on the racks again.

I'm hoping there is a recipe out there that will be more akin to the spinach pasta in texture. The dough should have the consistency of Play-Dough (if childhood memory serves me properly). This was more like silly putty.

I haven't given it the taste test yet. As I write this, the kitchen is awash in flour. The pasta is drying on a pair of racks. And I needed an excuse to sit down.
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