Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pasta at Home

When my family moved out of our home--I guess you could call it my childhood home, as though I was born and spent the first three years of my life in Massachusetts, then about 10 years in the first house we lived in in Connecticut, I spent over 15 years in this house--there was a lot of cleaning and purging. Clothing. Dress-ups. Dolls. Kitchen stuff. So when my mom considered parting with an ancient Atlas pasta machine that we had not used in over 17 years, the chef in me immediately piped up, "it's mine!"

So, fast forward to nearly two months ago, and the pasta machine emerged from my tens and tens of boxes. Albeit dusty, it was un-rusted and in need of use. But, when?

I've recently re-embarked on my (okay, crazy) training plan for running a half-marathon. Why crazy, you ask? Well, it's a big of a mish-mash of a plan. There is no "real" training plan that I'm following, and I probably should be working on shorter speed and hill runs. But, I dislike both. I'm a turtle--slow and steady--endurance is so my thing. So, the mileage I've been covering in a week as increased exponentially... and as a result, my diet has fallen apart due to all these changes (more mileage, colder weather, desk job, working late, stress... ). Though I'm sticking to my goal to eat more whole vegetables and less meat, cheese, and nuts (I'm very happy with a bowl of salted nuts, or cheese and crackers, for snacks), my body is screaming for carbohydrates.

My good work in cheese and nut department, however comes at a cost--craving simple carbohydrates. Usually, if I stay away from sugar and "feed" that craving with simple carbs, like a nice slice of artisanal bread, I'm good. But, I caved into peanut M+M's over Halloween--and some Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and since I've been unable to kick the sugar cravings. Sugar, for me, is toxic. To the point where there have been the days when I've come home at 10 and called a bowl of cinnamon and pumpkin ice cream with toasted pecans and caramel sauce dinner, as I had to "test" it for a story at work. What's better--that or those frequent nights where I nibble on a cracker while downing a glass of wine at 10:30, still standing in my work clothes, half asleep.

The weekends are my time to relax, rest, and do what I love most: cook. So, after yesterday's 12.5 mile run through Brooklyn, my body needed some TLC. Although I had little appetite yesterday, it came roaring back today. Instead of filling up on worthless calories--and to get as much nutritional bang for my buck (ok, bite...), as when running about 30 miles a week, I need every bit of mineral and vitamin I can get--I made a wholesome and delicious pasta dish from scratch.

Let's just say, this was an experiment. I don't yet have white flour in my apartment, since moving. But, I do have whole wheat, which is more nutritious. And my pasta machine. And brussels sprouts. So, as I tested a brussels sprouts recipe for Thanksgiving, I had lots left over. End result? Roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic and raisins, leftover roasted eggplant with cumin, topped with simple whole wheat torn pasta with my new favorite olive oil and some chopped sage and manchego.

The picture really doesn't look appetizing, but it was so so good. Maybe even good enough to try again (I warn you--the whole wheat pasta-making process isn't as easy as it is with regular flour).

Whole Wheat Pasta

1/3 cup whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg.
Beat the egg in the center of the flour, only adding in the flour from around the well once the egg is beaten well. Mix until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until no longer super sticky, adding more flour as you go.

Run the dough through the pasta machine, making the sheets as thin as you wish (I left mine at level 6, as the whole wheat flour is not as fine). Tear or cut into the shape you wish, then let dry out for 5-10 minutes.

Cook in boiling salted water until pasta floats. Drain and serve immediately with sauce, oil, butter--whatever suits you.

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