Herb Pastas: Making Healthy Homemade Herb NoodlesBy Bev Walker (Sundownr)
May 16, 2009
The only two ingredients required to make a pasta dough are flour and liquid. Oil, eggs, dairy, and salt are optional, so those on restricted diets can create healthy flavorful pastas without them, especially by adding herbs, spices, vegetables, nuts, etc. (Word to the wise: any ingredient big enough to tear the dough needs to be chopped, cooked, crushed or ground before adding to the dough mixture.) The color of the dough will reflect the ingredients used: from subtle, varying shades of colored noodles, to specks of color, and even confetti-looking dough with multiple contrasting colors.
Herb pastas can be immediately cooked and eaten, or frozen or dried, to be cooked and eaten later. You are limited only by the herbs you have access to, your imagination, and your personal taste preferences.
The multitude of possible ingredients creates an economic opportunity for us to control the taste, nutrition, texture, freshness, and color of our pasta meals. Homemade pasta is very easy to make, and very inexpensive. I have tried making it by hand with a rolling pin and pizza cutter, but found it very tiresome. I bought an inexpensive (under $25) hand-crank pasta machine (sometimes called a pasta press) at a kitchen utensil store and a used copy of The Pasta Machine Cookbook by Donna R. German , which really started my pasta-making pastime.
The Dry Ingredients
I prefer unbleached or bread flour because of its availability, health benefits (compared to bleached white flour) and ease of use. It makes a beautiful, soft and silky dough that is easy to work with. The semolina durum wheat flour traditionally used for pasta is not readily available in my area and needs to be ordered, making it more expensive and less convenient.
Almost any other flour can replace a portion of the flour without a problem--some substitutes include bean flours, corn, tapioca, potato, rice, etc. Ground almond meal/flour is used for a high protein, low carbohydrate pasta for the carb-counting dieter.
I have noticed that most herb pasta recipes will use up to a tablespoon of dried and ground herb, or combination of herbs, for every cup of flour mix to really liven up the taste of a bland pasta dough. Triple the amount (3 tablespoons) if using fresh finely chopped herbs. Sauces may not be necessary for the more flavorful pastas. The addition of just a little melted butter, oil, salad dressing, or splash of lemon juice may be all that is needed to finish a pasta side dish or dessert, like Chocolate Pasta (recipe link below.)
Pasta dough can be formed using just about any kind of moisture, including, (but not at all limited to) herbal teas, infusions, and decoctions; vegetable or meat broths; fruit and vegetable juices; the pulp (and juice) from your juicer, and raw eggs (just the whites or the yolks, or both). Cooked or pureed herbs, greens, fruits, and vegetables, yogurt, kefir, coconut milk, and ground sprouts, can also be added to the liquid portion of your pasta dough mix. Why use plain water when the nutrition, taste, and color, of your pasta can be easily upgraded with one of these exciting liquids?
There are many oils that can be added as a portion of liquid to a pasta dough with very healthful benefits, especially oils high in Omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, canola, pumpkin, walnut, and soybean, to name a few. Herbs infused in any of these oils (or others) can add medicinal value as well as tremendous flavor to a pasta dough recipe. See ". . . What's For Dinner?" for more information about the medicinal values of culinary herbs.
HERB PASTA PICTURES
Pasta machine (pasta press) clamped to table and ready for work.
My usual herb pasta ingredients: herbs, spices, flour, free-range chicken egg (high in omega-3 fatty acid), and olive oil.
Herb pasta drying on the rack and on a tea towel.
Chocolate - Mint fettuccine noodles drying and chocolate spaghetti from the fridge.
Article Photo Credits
Thanks to Mrs_Ed for her artistic talents with theme logo.
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