Monday, 17 February 2014

Beetroot Pasta

Beetroot Pasta Title

So how do you get kids to eat anything other than Carbs? Vegetables? Not a chance. My Aunt used to call Green Beans, "Green Chips" to make my cousins eat them! 

I'm going for a more stealthy route. 

I had some beetroot lying around after I made some puree for my Beetroot Salad, and I didn't really want to pickle it. Don't get me wrong, I love pickled Beetroot, but we have jars and jars of the stuff lying around and don't really need any more. 

I have made pasta before, with my Grandma, which is how I got lumbered with given the Pasta machine I used to make this Pasta with. Only, I don't mind because it is so much fun to make, and ridiculously rewarding when you take something that looks like a murder scene . . . (see below)


and turn it into something that looks like the Pasta we all know and love!



As I was kneading and working with the Pasta I found that using a silicone mat worked really well. It usually hate using them because they are so difficult to work out how to wash . . . but it prevented me having to add too much extra flour which would have eventually seized the dough up.


I tried this recipe without kneading the dough first and it was almost impossible to roll through the rollers. I found that a quick knead first made it so much easier.

The first couple of passes will look disastrous - like the dough is going to fall apart, but in actuality it suddenly goes from looking like a train wreck, to coming together super quickly.

Be warned. The red colour of the Beets stains. Everything. 


The Flour is so fine, it gets EVERYWHERE!! Uber messy job!


I also had so much fun winding the handle of the Pasta machine.

Yes I do love blending. There is nothing like standing expectantly over the top of the blender waiting for something to be ready, but there was a certain child-like enjoyment to the manual labour I endured to create this! 

I actually love doing this so much, that I have a really long list of different flavours to try next! I think Spinach and Garlic will be next on the list - I plan to leave that in sheets and create a green Lasagne with Cauliflower Bechamel, and Soy Mince "Meat". . . only that's another day. I sometimes get a little ahead of myself. My imagination works three times as fast as what I am physically capable of doing. 


I decided to dry my pasta, I rolled it out and cut it into strips, I then placed it on a non-stick silicone mat (Greaseproof Paper would work too) on top of a baking sheet and placed it in a warm dry place overnight. (Above our cooker, which powers our heating and warm water so is on 24/7 ).


You don't necessarily have to dry the Pasta out, instead you could freeze it (I didn't do this because I have NO room in my freezer!)


To cook the Pasta, add it to a pan of boiling Salted Water for 4 minutes.


Before I dried the Pasta out I separated it into portion-sized piles which would make it easier for working out how much Pasta I would need to cook per person. (1 each . . . and 1 for luck!)

Recipe :

2 Beets
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Cups Type "00" Flour (see notes)
1 Tbsp Chilli Olive Oil

1. Cook the Beets however you prefer. I recommend wrapping in foil, and roasting in the oven for about an hour at 180 until tender. Allow to cool then rub gently to remove the skins. (see notes)

2. Add the Beets and Lemon Juice into a food processor and blitz until a paste is formed.
3. Add the Chilli Oil to the food processor and process for a little while until it begins emulsify.
4. Add the Flour to the processor and turn on, it should fairly quickly come together into a dough. I leave the processor running until a dough forms and begins to clunk around. The moment that happens I turn the processor off so as not to burn the motor out (although I'm pretty sure that would take some doing!)
5. Knead the dough on an un-floured surface for a couple of minutes.
6. It is now ready to pass through a pasta machine. (see notes)
7. On the largest setting feed 1/3 of the dough through the rollers. When it appears the other side, take the dough, fold in half and dust with flour. Repeat this process twice more on the largest setting.
8. Working from largest setting to smallest setting, feed the dough through the rollers, then fold in half, dust with flour, repeating three times in total on each setting.
9. As you get to the last pass, do not fold in half. Instead, pass the dough through the cutters. (see notes)

Substitutions :

Beets - It is possible to use a variety of different vegetables to achieve different effects. It is usually the 'watery' vegetables that work best. Spinach, Peppers, Tomatoes all work really well. 
Chilli Olive Oil - I've found that this dough, although doesn't technically need the Oil, works best with it. You don't have to use Chilli Olive Oil - I just like the bit of spice (any excuse to put chilli in something and I'll take it.) Garlic Oil would be nice, or if you don't really want any added flavour, you could use either plain Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil or Vegetable Oil. If you're funny about Oil (I know the feeling, I'm super funny about it) you can just omit the Oil completely.

Notes :

The flour I used was Doves Farm Organic Pasta Flour - Type 00. You don't strictly have to use Pasta flour, although it is well worth the effort to track some down. I usually like to use Organic ingredients where I can, and this flour is really nice. Most supermarkets do have Pasta Flour available, however if you can't track it down Plain Flour will work in a pinch. I have used Wholemeal Flour in the past with some pretty decent results.

I usually cook Beets all at the same time, because I can't really think of a time where we'd want to eat raw Beets!! Therefore we usually have an abundance of cooked Beets. Most supermarkets will sell cooked Beets anyway, usually sold in vacuum sealed packets. This, surprisingly is quite a good way to buy Beets (it means you don't dye yourself pink in the process of cooking them!!!) and is usually really cost effective. If you are determined to cook them yourself, there are a few ways of doing so, I just prefer the roasting method.

Using a Pasta machine is by far the best way to do this, although is not completely necessary. If you don't have one, or can't get hold of one. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. After you have kneaded the dough, using a rolling pin roll out the dough to about 1/2'' thickness. Fold in half and dust with flour. Roll back out to 1/2'' and repeat once more. Then roll out to 1/4'' thickness, folding in half and dusting with flour, repeating twice more. With every three rolls reduce the thickness by half, until it is thin enough. When the desired thickness is reached you can slice it into lengths using a pizza cutter (or normal knife, but pizza cutters are easier), or cut into shapes with small cutters.

There are so many different shapes you can cut your pasta into. You don't have to simply slice it into tagliatelle -style strips. If you are clever-er than me you could make ravioli, spaghetti or even tortellini!

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