I had planned to go to Italy for the first time this summer and while traditionally a lot of Italian food is not very vegan friendly, I was looking forward to being immersed in the country’s rich culinary atmosphere even if just as an observer. Well, that trip didn’t happen for obvious reasons (hopefully I’ll get there someday soon) so I thought I’d ease my ache for Italy by trying to make pasta from scratch. Though the ingredients are simple enough (flour, water, and usually eggs), making pasta from scratch always seemed kind of daunting especially with that kind of legacy behind it, but once you delve in, get your hands in that dough and see what you can produce, it’s easy to get past the intimidation factor.
And no you don’t need a pasta maker to make pasta. Will your pasta be aesthetically perfect without one? Probably not, but I suspect you won’t care much once you start eating it.
A note on flour – while it may seem that all flours are relatively equal, this is definitely not the case. There are several factors that determine flour quality, like absorption ability, protein profile, ash content and the amount of starch damage. One of the biggest challenges for me was getting the ratio of wet to dry ingredients right. This is all just to say that this is the ratio that worked for me, but you may need to experiment with whatever specific flour you are using. If your dough is too wet, gradually add more flour. If the flouring isn’t forming into a dough, gradually add more water.
Ingredients (makes 4 to 5 servings)
For the Pasta:
3 medium beet roots, peeled, diced into small chunks
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of water
1 tbsp. of oil
1 tsp of salt
For the Tofu Feta:
300g block of extra firm tofu
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steam or boiled until tender
3/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. of salt
1 tbsp. of capers
1 tbsp. of dill
For the Tofu Feta:
1. Cut the tofu into small cubes.
2. In a medium bowl add the cooked broccoli, the cubed tofu, 3/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1 tbsp. of salt, 1 tbsp. of capers, 1 tbsp. of dill.
3. Mix everything together and leave aside in the fridge to marinate. The longer you let it marinate the more flavour the tofu will absorb.
For the Pasta:
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peeled and diced beet root. Reduce to simmer and cook for 45 min to 1 hour until the beets are tender.
2. In a blender or food processor, add the cooked beet roots and pulse until pureed. Set aside. You may want to let the puree cool in the fridge for a bit.
3. In a large mixing bowl, add 3 1/2 cups of flour, the beet puree, 1 tbsp. of oil, 1 tsp of salt, and 3/4 cup of water. Note that if you’re not using beets you will probably have to add more water. Mix the ingredients together until a smooth dough is formed.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce to simmer
5. On a slightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a long rectangle. Using a knife, slice the dough in strips about 1/2 inch across. It helps to have something to drape the pasta over, as the strips will stick to each other.
6. Add the cut dough to the water. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes
7. Strain and serve topped with the Tofu Feta.