Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pasta

 I made my own fresh pasta for this dish and have attached my recipe, but feel free to use store-bought fresh pasta. I will say that my dad claims the homemade pasta made the dish. 

Also note that I always boost the vegetable amounts :)

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pasta
Fine Cooking: CookFresh

3/4 lb fresh pasta sheets cut into ~1/2 inch thick strips
1 clove garlic, minced

3 C mixed spring vegetables cut into small, thin pieces( about 2  by 1/2 in)
 (The recipe suggests: carrots, asparagus, spring onions, baby turnips, and sugar snap peas; I used carrots, thin asparagus, and thinly sliced onion)

1/2 C shelled peas or fava beans (I used frozen peas)
1/3 C watercress or pea shoots (I didn't have this, replaced it with chopped arugula)
1/4 C loosely packed herbs, such as basil, mint, and parsley
4 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in pieces
11/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water, the garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper to a simmer in a high-sided saute pan. Add the mixed vegetables and simmer, adjusting heat as necessary, until just tender, about 3 minutes. 

**The recipe notes to cook the peas for about 3 minutes on their own, and to skip cooking if using fava beans. I just cooked my frozen peas with the rest of the vegetables

When the vegetables are tender, transfer them to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Boil the remaining liquid until it has reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just tender. Add the vegetables and pasta along with the herbs, butter, watercress, and lemon zest back into the stock. Toss over medium heat until the butter melts, about 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Fresh (Whole Wheat) Pasta
Adapted from many different sources...

This makes about a pound of fresh pasta dough. It can be cut in half, but it does get tricky.

1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs (this is where it gets subjective)
~ 1 Tbs. olive oil
2 to 3 Tbs water

First, mix the flours and the salt together on a clean counter-top. Make a pile and create a well in the center. 

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl with the oil and ~1 Tbs water.  Pour this mixture into the flour well. This is where it gets tough...

Try to whisk the egg mixture into the flour with a fork, drawing little bits of flour from the edges of the well. Use your hands to maintain the walls of the well, trying not to let any egg mixture escape. If you are successful, there will come a point when the liquid is no longer in danger of seeping. At this point,  continue to mix the dough with your hands.
If some egg mixture happens to leak out of your well, don't worry. Use the fork to scrape as much of it back together as possible, then just move on to the hand-mixing step. The overall object is to make a smooth, consistent dough.

The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky. Add flour or water as needed to get the dough to the correct consistency.

If you have a pasta maker, run the dough through the flat roller on each setting, up to the desired thinness. If you don't have a pasta maker, don't worry. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough as thin as possible - you know, about as thin as a noodle...

Cut the pasta into strips for the recipe above, or create any shape you'd like. 

To cook, add the pasta to salted boiling water and cook it for about 5 minutes. Timing may vary based upon the dryness or shape of your pasta, so monitor it as it cooks. Drain the pasta and toss with your sauce of choice.

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