I recently received a gift of three Italian cookbooks, one of which is Pasta fatta in casa (homemade pasta) by Paola Loaldi. The moment I opened this book, I knew I'd have fun with it, as it is full of nice ideas for pasta using a variety of flours and other ingredients. I immediately tried one recipe from the chapter Paste fantasia, but today I will talk about my second experiment, from the same chapter.
Farfalle (butterflies) is a pasta shape I favored as a child, though I cannot really explain why. In English, this pasta shape is referred to with its Italian name or as bow ties. In Italian bow tie is cravatta a farfalla (cravatta means tie) or farfallino. Back to pasta land, Emilia-Romagna (Bologna, Modena), farfalle are called strichetti. Besides the shape, the other characteristic that attracted me to this recipe is the use of red beets (barbabietole rosse) as a natural dye, something I had seen and wanted to replicate.
Last Saturday, I came back from the farmers' market with a beautiful bunch of beets, still with their greens attached, and I roasted them all, using one to make pasta and the rest in a simple salad. This was my first departure from the original recipe, which calls for boiled beet. The second departure was the use of a bit of durum flour together with all-purpose flour. Finally, I halved the quantities. (As mentioned recently, I think it is a good idea to work with a relatively small amount of dough when making pasta — or a pasta — for the first time.)
Ingredients for the farfalle:
- A small red beet (3 oz.)
- 1 egg
- 130 g / 4.5 oz. all-purpose flour
- 20 g / .75 oz. durum flour
- A pinch of salt
Cut greens off an inch or so above the surface of the beet. Wrap in foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in a 375 F oven until tender. Unwrap, cool slightly, and slip the skin off. (In the interest of energy efficiency, do this with a bunch of beets, like I did: you can use the other beets in many ways, like this spread or a salad or a frittata.)
Purée beet. Given the small size of the beet, after chopping it roughly in the food processor, I added the egg to the bowl and processed some more to create a creamy combination, which I then added to the flours and salt. I didn't need to add water or more flour to the measured quantities and the resulting dough was easy to work with. After letting the dough rest for some time, covered, I rolled the dough, then cut (using a pastry cutter with fluted wheel) and shaped the farfalle. That took a bit of time, but it was not difficult.
Close to dinner time, I brought a pot of water to a rolling boil, added coarse salt and then the farfalle. The cooking time was about 5 minutes, but I did not keep track of time accurately, since the actual amount depends on various factors and will be different next time. When I cook fresh pasta, I just hang out close to the pot, ready to taste it when I get a sense that it may be ready.
The interesting thing is that the farfalle got darker as they dried on the spianatoia (kneading board), then they turned pink again as they cooked. I decided to serve them dressed with my favorite combination of butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I used salted butter, which I melted before using it over the pasta (my original idea was to add a bit of chives to the butter, but then decided against it). Our dinner guests all gave the farfalle thumbs up, so I will certainly make this pasta again.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the farfalle rosa al burro e parmigiano audio file [mp3].
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