Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade pasta with Roasted Garlic, Lemon, and Black Pepper Cream Sauce

I’ve always loved making pasta (well, except for that first time which was a horrible experience which is best forgotten). For years I made all of my own pasta. I did it enough that it was fast an easy. I could make enough pasta from scratch for one person in the time it took to bring a pot of water to a boil. I’ve done less of it over the years, and frankly haven’t made any since I became vegan. Why? It’s an egg thing. Yes, a lot of pasta is made from 100% semolina flour and water. But that’s dry pasta, not fresh pasta. Fresh pasta had to have egg. And most of the vegan egg alternatives seemed like a bad idea in pasta (flax seed pasta anyone?). I’m vegan and proud, but I won’t compromise my food just so I can say it’s vegan. So I thought I was stuck with dried pasta.

Then we went to Portobello a few weeks ago and the food was eye opening. Astounding, amazing, game changingly good. And all of their pasta is handmade fresh pasta. OK, it’s time to rethink the whole “you can’t make fresh pasta without eggs thing.” I did a little more research. In the Artful Vegan (one of the Millennium restaurant books), they say that they make their pasta with semolina, water and a splash of olive oil. I’ve tried using 100% semolina flour in the past for pasta and didn’t like the texture. It lacked the fine suppleness that fresh pasta should have. So I read up on egg substitutes and thought about tracking down the Ener-G egg replacer, even though Vegan with a Vengeance says it can give a weird flavor. But then I discovered Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer: soy flour, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids, and align (from algae). Corn Syrup Solids? But it is Bob’s Red Mill. Hmm, corn syrup solids? Really? But I trust a man who gave his company to his employees when he retired.

So I tried it. The instructions are 1 tablespoon of egg replacer plus 3 tablespoons of water equals one egg. I use the basic measurement for pasta that I learned from Giuliano Bugialli: one egg per cup of flour, plus a little bit of olive oil, but I had to alter that somewhat.  Since Millennium used semolina, I decided to add some. Here’s what I came up with:

Fresh pasta

1 cup of white flour
1 cup of semolina
4 tablespoons of Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
¾ cups of water
A splash of oil (1-2 teaspoons, maybe)

Remember, it’s pasta and humidity, your flour, etc. will affect how much water you need. So these quantities are approximate but they are pretty close. Mix the flours together. Mix the egg replacer, water and oil together. Put the flour on a board and make a well in the middle. Add the liquid to the well. Mix it with a fork, incorporating more flour as it thickens. When it’s thick enough, start to mix it by hand. Work it into a stiff dough. When it’s stiff, start to roll it with a rolling pin. Divide it into two or three parts and run it through a pasta machine. Mine has 7 settings but I normally go until number 5 and then cut it as tagliatelle. Put it on clean dish towels and let it dry somewhat.

This sauce is almost directly out of the Millennium cookbook. I wanted something sort of rich and creamy, but also something that wouldn’t completely smother the pasta. But it does have a fair amount of black pepper. Start with a little less, taste it (you should always taste as you go), and decide if you need more.

Lemon, Black Pepper and Caper Garlic Cream (adapted from the Millennium Cookbook)

¾ cup braised garlic
1½ cups almond milk
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon white miso
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest from one lemon, finely chopped
Juice from lemon
½ to ¾ teaspoons of coarsely cracked black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of capers

Mix all of the ingredients except the capers in a blender. Blend well. Heat in a small sauce pan. Don’t let it boil. It will thicken as it gets hot. Hold on the side, keeping it warm.

Cook the pasta. Remember, fresh pasta cooks in a few minutes. Toss the pasta with the sauce, add the capers and serve. If you go by traditional Italian standards, you may have a little too much sauce, since they don’t like the pasta drowned in the sauce. If you like it a little saucier, use all of the sauce – pasta police be damned. If I was Julia Child, I would tell you to serve a green salad, but I’m too lazy tonight. But like Julia, I will recommend a good medium bodied red wine or a good beer (I could see going NW IPA to cut the cream or something golden and Belgian to add complexity. 

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