East Meets West: Eggless Pasta and Kicked Up A Notch Tomato Sauce

Good morning everyone,
Today’s challenge is pasta.  Home-made pasta dough to be exact, since we’re all about made from scratch food around here.  Most classic pasta recipes include egg, which is a no-no for us.  The New Basic Cookbook’s recipe for Pasta Dough (on page 128) is no different.  After some research online, I found a number of suggestions for replacing the egg in the pasta.Some of the suggestions (to replace one egg) are:
1 tbsp flax seed & 3 tbsp water, ground in a blender until smooth
Omit the egg (this won’t work for us since the original recipe has no other liquid)
2 tbsp yogourt
2 tbsp tofu, blended until smooth
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp buttermilkWe liked the idea of adding flax seed as the replacement so we tried it first and we liked it.  We also tried substituting our home made yogourt, and got a slightly heavier dough that will be great for raviolis.  Feel free to experiment with the other suggestions and let me know how it goes!

The two recipes that we tackled today from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins are Pasta Dough and Fresh Summer Pasta Sauce.  Our versions are Eggless Pasta Dough and Summer Lovin’ Tomato Sauce, named that for no other reason that our daughter loves Grease and once convinced me watch it with her four times in a row, until she had the entire repertoire of songs down pat.

Eggless Pasta Dough

This recipe makes about 1/2 kilogram of pasta dough.

Ingredients
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tbsp flax seed
9 tbsp water

Method
Dry roast the flax seed in a pan for 10 – 15 seconds until they become fragrant.  Put the seeds in a blender or wet grinder with the water and grind until smooth and creamy.  On a flat work surface, make a pile of the flour, making a well shape in the middle.  Pour in the flax water and, using your hands, begin the form the dough together.  When the dough begins to stick, sprinkle a little more flour over it and continue.  Knead the dough until it forms a smooth, firm ball.

Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and lest rest for 30 minutes.  Divide the ball of dough into five pieces.  Cover four of the pieces with the towel.  Roll one piece slightly with a rolling pin.  Flour the dough lightly on both sides.  Roll the dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine (or roll to 1/8″ thickness with the rolling pin, adding flour as needed).  Fold the pasta in thirds, and roll through the machine again.  Repeat this four times, folding the dough each time.

Continue rolling the pasta through the machine, gradually making the opening smaller, until you have arrived at the third-thinnest setting.  Run the dough through one more time and you are ready to cut if for pasta.  Cut the dough in whatever shape you like and repeat with remaining pieces of dough, one at a time.

Summer Lovin’ Tomato Sauce

The original recipe calls for garden variety, sun ripened, almost bursting with ripeness tomatoes.  I can get those here and growing them in our short season in a greenhouse just doesn’t produce the same effect.  So we’ve used vine-ripened tomatoes that we were able to obtain from the local grocer, grown south of us in British Columbia.  The original recipe (The New Basics Cookbook, page 128) also uses this sauce as more of a salad, so we have added some Indian fusion flavours that are appropriate to a pasta salad, given that this recipe is already vaishno.  We’ve left out the parmesan, which contains rennet.

3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes. very ripe
4 tbls olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seed, ground
1/2 tsp coriander seed, ground
1/2 tbls chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes in the water for 30 seconds.  Plunge the tomatoes in cold water to stop the cooking.  Drain the tomatoes and remove the peel.  Half the tomatoes and remove the cores, taking out all of the seeds.  Drain the juice from the tomato and dice.

Combine the diced tomatoes with 1 tbls of the olive oil in a mixing bowl.  Add all the remaining ingredients and toss to blend.  To serve, add the remaining olive oil and toss with hot pasta.  Garnish with additional basil leaves, if desired.

Tips:  You can easily cut the olive oil in half in this recipe.  We typically use less than 1 tbls of olive oil in this sauce.

So there you have it – pasta and a basic sauce.  We’ll look at more pasta in future East Meets West posts but next time, we’re on to another Italian favourite – risotto.  Don’t worry, despite all the propoganda to the contrary, you do not have to be a professional chef to make a good risotto.  If I can accomplish it, so can you and you won’t regret it.  Risotto is an amazing and impressive dish to serve to your family and guests, just like home made pasta.

Until next time,
Peace & love,
Himmatpreet

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