Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Buckwheat pasta

Pizzoccheri is what the Italians call buckwheat pasta. It's not made entirely with buckwheat flour, but rather with a combination of all-purpose and buckwheat. I encountered so many variations of this that I finally just almagamated several ideas into my own very satisfying version.

It has a deliciously nutty flavor and is extremely easy to do in a food processor (which also obviates the need for much kneading).

The dough enhancer is important due to the lack of gluten in buckwheat.

Buckwheat pasta (4 servings as linguini or ravioli)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dough enhancer
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup warm milk

Put the flours, salt, and enhancer into a food processor and buzz for a second or two. Drop in the egg yolks and process until thoroughly combined. With the motor running, drizzle in warm milk only until the contents gather into a ball.

Each time I make this I find I have to incorporate more all-purpose flour on my cutting board to get the right consistency. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. If you make this a day ahead, refrigerate it, but take it out of the fridge a couple of hours ahead to get the dough to room temp.

Now for the pasta machine. I bought one Ebay a couple of years ago. It's an Italian one made by Markato. I love it. Start with the widest setting (1 on my machine). Cut the dough into 4 pieces and form each by hand into a rectangle thin enough to feed through the pasta maker.

Reset the machine to 2 and run each strip through again. Repeat with settings 3 and 4. The machine has a cutter for spaghetti or linguini. If making ravioli, I cut it by hand. Let the finished pasta sit for an hour or two before cooking.

It will take only 3-4 minutes max in a big pot of boiling, well-salted water to cook. Transfer with a spider into a large pan containing your favorite sauce.

What to fill the ravioli with? I've done pureed squash and most recently sauteed mushrooms (1/2 and 1/2 white buttons and reconstitued dried shiitakes with some salt and pepper and a bit of ricotta cheese).

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