How to Make Fresh Kale Pasta at Home (recipe)

I’m totally one of those people that finds “weekend (or weeknight) cooking projects” to be deeply satisfying (yes, I know, food need alert!) and making homemade pasta is one of those things for me. Call me cheap, but when I see fresh pasta being sold for $15.99 per pound (darn, these New York City prices!), I remind myself that I can do the same thing at home for 3 eggs, a couple cups of flour and some elbow grease–so what the heck am I still standing in the store for, I gotta get home and get started!

And that’s how this kale pasta recipe happened. In all honesty, I was already set on making fresh pasta and had some kale just lying around in the fridge and thought, why not throw it in the pasta? As I like the pretty pattern the green kale makes when swirled with the yellow egg pasta, I only roughly blended it into the eggs, but if you want more of a uniform color, by all means, go ahead and puree the shiz out of the blanched kale before proceeding.

FRESH KALE PASTA

Fresh Kale Pasta

Ingredients:
2 Cups Flour (plus a lil’ more for rolling out the dough)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 – 1 Bunch Tuscan/Lacinato Kale (I’m sure you could use green kale too, but I had Tuscan in my fridge)
3 Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper

Directions:

1. Blanch the kale:
Heat a pot of water to boiling on high. In the meantime, remove and discard the stems of the kale, keeping the leafy greens. Once the water is boiling, cook the kale leaves for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and run the cooked kale under cold water to stop the cooking process. Using your hands (and maybe some paper towels), press out as much water as possible from the kale, then roughly chop (if you’re using a blender later) or finely chop (if not).

2. Combine the kale and eggs:
If using a blender, combine the eggs, olive oil, as much freshly ground black pepper as you’d like and the chopped kale until smooth. If you’re not using a blender, just combine everything in a bowl. (Personally, I like the combination of the bitter kale with the zesty kick from the pepper, so I used a lot of black pepper here. Yum!)

3. Make the pasta dough:
In a large bowl or on a clean work sufrace, combine the flour and salt. Make a small well in the middle (the steeper the sides the better) and pour the egg-kale mixture in. Then, using your hands, gradually incorporate the flour by pulling from the sides and into the well. As you incorporate more flour, a dough will form. (If you find the dough to be too dry, add a little water. Too dry? Add a little more flour. It’s not a perfect science, but just “listen” to the dough and give it what it needs.)

4. Knead the dough:
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. (I like to take this time to reset [ie. clean up my previous mess & pull out my pasta machine], oh and crack open a bottle of wine–that is, if I haven’t already done so…I mean, you have to have wine with pasta, right? I studied abroad in Italy and we had wine with every meal sans colazione.)

5. Roll out the pasta:
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Then, working with each piece one at a time, flour it throughly and press it out with your hands until it’s about 1/2-inch thick and no wider than your pasta machine. Then crank that bad boy through your machine, gradually turning the slot down to make it thinner and thinner with each pass. (Since the dough will get sticky as it gets thinner, make sure you have extra flour on hand. You don’t want this beautiful dough getting stuck all up in your machine.) Once your pasta is at your desired thinness, cut into whatever width you like–say fettuccine- or paperadelle-width or leave it super wide for lasagna. You’re grown, I’ll let you choose.

6. Cook the pasta:
To cook the pasta, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and drop the pasta in. Give it a good stir and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it floats near the top. Then drain and throw it into your favorite sauce. Buon appetito!

7. Freeze the pasta:
Whenever I make fresh pasta, I always end up with leftovers, which I ain’t mad at because they’re great to have on hand for a busy weeknight. To freeze the pasta, shape it into a nice, rounded circle or basket and generously flour. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Whenever you’re ready to cook it, carefully and gently (you don’t want the fragile noodles to break), drop the pasta into boiling water and cook. (Frozen pasta usually needs an extra minute to cook.)

And that’s that. I threw this particular pasta into a delicious bolognese sauce, but I’ll post that another time. Hope you enjoy!

Anyone tried any other cool pasta flavor variations?

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Yes, please! Homemade Oreos

Oreos have always been one of my “problem foods.” Once in college, 3 buddies and myself sat on the floor of our hallway dorm and proceeded to eat an entire bag of Oreos (with milk, of course)! Needless to say, as much as eating these deliciously sweet sandwiches is fun, making them is just as satisfying. Not only can you customize the flavors to your perfect balance, but you can make them BIG, like as big as a huge lollipop big, so big that you’ll put those storebought cookies to shame. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

Anywho, try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Happy dunking! (Apologies for any typos, I wrote this up on the fly while riding the subway.)

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HOMEMADE OREOS
Recipe adapted from Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen

For chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Natural Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder
1/2 Cup + 2 TB Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Egg

Filling:
1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To make the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt. (Sifting, optional)

3. Combine the butter and espresso powder and, using an electric mixer or food processor on low speed, add to the flour mixture until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand.

4. Beat in the egg until a dry batter forms.

5. Drop rounded teaspoons (or bigger) onto a baking sheet or sheets about 2 inches apart. Then, using wet fingers, press the dough into round circles. (Go big or go home, baby!) Bake 9 minutes, or until the cookies are set, rotating halfway through.

6. Remove from then oven and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling:
1. Using an electric mixer, gradually beat the sugar and vanilla into the room temperature butter. (You may not need all of the sugar.)

To assemble the cookies:

Transfer the filling mixture into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with one corner cut out), and pipe into the center of half of the cookies. With the remaining cookies, top the “filled cookies” to create amazing and delicious Oreo-like sandwiches. Yum!

Vegetarian Wedge Salad

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I’m not exactly sure where or when the wedge salad was invented, but the combination of iceberg lettuce, creamy dressing, tangy blue cheese and crispy bacon seems like a quintessentially American creation.

While looking in my fridge one night, I spotted a number of Wedge Salad ingredients and started to get excited, until-–dun dun dunnnn–-I didn’t have any bacon. In search of a quick substitute, I found that I had falafel and thus a (meat-free) salad plan was hatched. To go along with my newly-inspired Mediterranean take on the wedge salad, I whipped up a feta-buttermilk dressing in place of the standard blue cheese dressing and substituted grilled romaine for the typical iceburg lettuce (I don’t think romaine is typically Mediterranean, but I just really like the chargrilled romaine flavor, so I went with it).

VEGETARIAN WEDGE SALAD (Recipe)

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced in half
extra virgin olive oil
4 pre-cooked falafel patties
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/3 red onion, thinly sliced then chopped
2 tbsp. cheese; the classic recipe uses blue cheese, I use whatever tangy and crumbly cheese I have on hand
chives
Salt and pepper to season

For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, pureed or finely chopped and mashed
2 ounces feta cheese; again you can substitute whichever cheese you have around
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 tsp. fresh rosemary)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

Preparation

  1. To make the dressing: In a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle blend together garlic, cheese, rosemary, buttermilk and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance to allow flavors to meld.
  2. Preheat grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Dress cut-side of romaine with olive oil and salt and pepper. When grill pan is hot enough for water droplets to sizzle and evaporate immediately, place romaine cut side down. For the best and most prominent grill marks, avoid moving and flipping the romaine too often. Ideally each side of the romaine will only touch the grill pan once.Since I like the grilled romaine to be warm when eating the salad, I make sure all of my other ingredients are chopped and ready to go before I turn on the grill pan.
  3. Simultaneously, heat the falafel in your preferred method and chop into smaller pieces.I like to grill the falafel in the same pan as the romaine.
  4. Place one romaine wedge each on two plates and drizzle with feta-buttermilk dressing. Divide and sprinkle remaining ingredients over each wedge and serve.

Tip: For extra protein, add a sprinkling of a chopped hard boiled egg.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

When tomatoes are in season, you really don’t need to do much to them to enjoy them. I love making this super simple heirloom salad as an easy appetizer, side dish or anytime snack. It’s important to wedge the tomatoes so each bite has a mix of seeds and jelly which actually contain the most flavor (as opposed to the flesh). 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

3-5 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 serrano chile, thinly sliced with seeds removed
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preparation

Place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 5-10 minutes (or more) to let flavors combine.

Vegetarian Farro and Corn Salad

The best part about this recipe is that you don’t really need a recipe. Just toss together however much (or little) of each ingredient you’d like and eat. To save time on the week days, prepare the farro ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to build the salad with whatever else you’ve got—like corn, avocado, asparagus, etc.

Vegetarian Farro Salad

Vegetarian Farro Salad

Ingredients

2 cups farro
1 1/2 cups corn, raw or cooked
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced then quartered
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pea shoots, torn in half or chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2-3 tablespoons honey balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Cook farro as directed and drain. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, toss whatever ingredients you’d like such as corn, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, pea shoots and feta cheese in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together vinaigrette. (Typically for a vinaigrette, you’ll want one part vinegar/acid to two parts oil. For this specific recipe, I used honey balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but you could also use lemon juice or sherry, apple cider or rice wine vinegar. To kick up the flavor a little more, you can also mix in a small amount of dijon mustard or soy sauce, depending on whatever type of flavor-profile you’re going for.)
  4. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, toss until well coated and season with salt and pepper. Finito!

Tip: I like to let the farro cool a little bit so that it doesn’t wilt the greens too much. However, don’t let it cool too much! Tossing the farro with the vinaigrette when it’s slightly warm allows the farro to absorb more of the vinaigrette.

Tip: Serve this salad on its own or over a bed of greens such as arugula, spinach or escarole.

Tip: Wanna keep it meatless, but still want more protein? Add a soft-poached or hard boil egg.