Last Sunday we went to a family Pasta Party held in honor of my father-in-law’s birthday. We all rolled our own pasta, which was cooked and then topped with mouth-watering homemade sauces. It was my first experience with homemade pasta, and man let me tell you, I am SOLD!
Of course, since pasta is essentially boiled bread, my Geek Gears got themselves in a whirl, and I just had to try making my own naturally yeasted pasta.
Now, pasta does not need natural yeast for leavening purposes, but it does need it for nutritional reasons. There are only two ways I can think of to prepare whole wheat pasta so that the wheat is optimally nutritious.
- Make your pasta out of sprouted wheat (wheat that is sprouted, dehydrated, then ground for flour). Costly, but easy.
- Add some natural yeast starter to the dough, then give it an overnight ferment before cutting and cooking.
Obviously, I opted for door #2. Here is the recipe I created:
Whole Wheat Sourdough Pasta
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup starter
2/3 cup water
combine flours and salt in a bowl, then dump in a heap on your work surface. Use the back of a spoon to shape a small “well” in the center of your flour hill. (Pretend you’re preparing mashed potatoes for some gravy)Combine eggs, olive oil, and starter in your empty bowl, then pour mixture into the flour well.
Use your spoon to gently stir the liquids in the well, slowly incorporating flour from the sides until a thick paste forms. Use your hands to mix the dough further. Begin adding small quantities of water until the dough is elastic and binding well.
Knead the dough until it reaches a smooth, silky texture. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Allow the dough to soak for 8-14 hours.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and divide into 4 sections. Take one section and roll it into a rectangle as absolutely thin and even as you can get it. For ease in cutting, you can fold the long edges down into the middle (like you would fold a bath-towel), making sure to dust flour between layers to prevent sticking.
Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut small ribbons of noodles as evenly along the dough as possible.
The flavor of this pasta was delicious. Despite the chunkiness of the noodles, you could not taste the sour at all. I even used my 19-year old bro-in-law as my critic, and he thought the taste was excellent.
I do wish I owned a pasta cutter though. There’s nothing like the super-fine texture of a thinly rolled and cut homemade pasta. In the mean-time, I will practice my pasta-ninja skills for the next batch!