Numerous varieties of egg noodles are found commonly in China and Japan, but Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Far East, and even India and Tibet use them as well. Pasta is a welcome addition to numerous courses, and a wide variety of delicious sauces, pestos, pastes and oils complement it. With just a few extra minutes, a variety of gourmet pasta colors and flavors can be created at home easily. Let me show you how.
When you first start out making your own pasta at home, it is best to begin with the basic pasta recipe consisting of flour, water, salt and sometimes some olive oil and eggs. A simple hand-cranked pasta machine can be a timesaving edition to your kitchen. I highly recommend you purchase one if you hope to make pasta on a regular basis.
To make about one pound of pasta, mix your ingredients together with a fork on a clean countertop or large cutting board. Make a well in the center of the flour and gently beat together the eggs, salt, olive oil and water. Incorporate in the flour into your well, a small amount at a time, until a nice ball of dough forms. Then knead your dough for a couple minutes and set it aside to rest. After about 10 minutes you can come back and roll it out and cut it into the shapes you want or run it through your pasta machine.
Ingredients for One Pound of Basic Egg Pasta Dough
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
Perhaps you are looking to add some color to your pasta dishes. Black, orange, green and purple pastas can easily be made with a few additional ingredients, most of which can be found in your garden or at your local farmer’s market. You can make orange or red pasta with carrots or tomatoes. For carrot pasta, add cooked, puréed carrots (about 8 ounces) to your pasta recipe, working it in along with the eggs or water.
You can serve carrot pasta with a light olive oil sauce or an Asian ginger based sauce. Seafood and chicken are excellent main dishes. Use tomato paste for reddish tomato pasta. To use the recipe for egg pasta shared above, take about 1/3 cup of tomato paste or 1/3 cup of puréed carrots and use that instead of one egg. Mix the paste or puree with the remaining two eggs and then continue to make your pasta. Tomato pasta goes well with creamy Alfredo sauce or olive oil vinaigrette with some garlic, fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Green pasta can make a delightful accent mixed with regular pasta or as a stand-alone dish. Most green pasta is spinach-based. To achieve green pasta, take about eight ounces of spinach and cook it in boiling water until it wilts. (Be sure to remove the tougher stems before cooking.) This will generally take two minutes or less. Then dump your wilted spinach in a colander and rinse it well with cold water. Wring excess moisture from the leaves and puree them in the blender or food processor. Mix the spinach puree with just two eggs (no need for the third egg for this recipe) and continue making your pasta as you normally would. Spinach pasta is very versatile. You can add a simple vinaigrette dressing, olive oil or butter with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, or try a white or red sauce.
Purple pasta is another delightful color to add to a meal and you can make rich purple pasta with red beets. Instead of using eggs for this recipe, you can use ¾ cup of water instead. Take an 8 ounce can of red beets and drain the liquid off, or cook up about eight ounces of beets. Then puree the beats in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add this mixture to the well in the center of your flour with the water and make up the pasta as you normally would. This will give your pasta a lovely reddish-purple color. Beet pasta may lose some of its color while cooking, taking on a vibrant magenta hue. While beet pasta doesn’t have a heavy beet flavor, the color makes a white sauce or sour cream and caviar really stand out. Garlic butter, orange ginger sauces or a meat and vegetable sauce work well, too.
Black pasta is startling and stunning. For this you will need between two tablespoons to 1/4 cup of squid ink. Try to find liquid squid ink, a thick black goo-like substance, rather than the powdered kind. You can probably find this online and at gourmet groceries. When you go to mix up your pasta, mix the squid ink in with your eggs first and then begin working the flour in. The dough may look grayish for a while, but will eventually take on a rich black hue. You will also probably want to use some gloves as squid ink can color your hands and some residue may remain behind even after you wash your hands off. Squid ink pasta has a fish flavor to it and looks amazing with pink fish, like salmon. You can serve it with fish casseroles or with a light red or white sauce as well.
While making colorful gourmet pasta can be a lot of fun, you don’t need to stop there. You can also experiment with different herb-flavored pastas. Basil-flavored pasta can be created by adding ¼ cup of dried basil to your dough. If you have fresh basil handy, take a cup or more of the fresh washed basil and put it, along with your eggs and oil, into your blender. Blend until smooth (some small green leaf flecks are fine). Place this mixture into the well in the middle of your flour and begin to incorporate your flower. Your pasta will turn out a bit green, too, depending on how much basil you use. This recipe goes wonderfully with tomato and garlic sauces.
Garlic basil is another flavored pasta that is simple to make, but gives a gourmet experience to your taste buds. Peel and mince six cloves of garlic and then mix them with the eggs and salt in a blender or food processor. Incorporate this with the flour. This creates a delightful garlic pasta great for paring with tomatoes, other herbs and pestos. Consider cutting back the garlic used in your sauces or pesto so that you don’t create a too-powerful garlic flavor.
While there are many more types of pastas that you can make at home, these recipes and guidelines should get you started. Once you get a feel for how the dough works, you’ll be ready to experiment with lemon pasta, black olive pasta, even chocolate pasta or saffron pasta. When it comes to pasta, your creativity is the limit!