Homemade Cupboard Pasta

If there’s anything I love using the rest of the squidgy remains from the bottom of the mixed greens bag, it’s for making homemade pasta.  Not all the greens are smooshy, but they are definitely more smoothy or pasta worthy vs. a fresh, crisp salad.  Homemade pasta is such an easy pull-together cupboard meal:  Homemade pasta isn’t as daunting as you might think, and there are a variety of toppings or sauces that will elevate your meal so no one will know it’s a pulled-together-cupboard meal.

Fresh: 2-3 cups mixed greens, a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Cupboard:  butternut squash, yellow onion, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts {I keep winter squashes and onions in my pantry, and walnuts in my freezer, so I consider these “pantry items”}.

Things are always a little more fun when you have a pair of helping hands.

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Roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and toasted walnut gremolata…Who says a Cupboard Meal has to be a brown and tasteless meal stirred together from a box?

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SPINACH PASTA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CARAMELIZED ONIONS, AND TOASTED WALNUT GREMOLATA

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium, for the homemade pasta
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I follow Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour Basic Pasta Recipe, adding sautéed mixed greens to the dough 

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTA

  • 2 cups spinach or mixed greens
  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR THE ROASTED SQUASH AND GREMOLATA

  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Sauté the spinach or mixed greens until wilted, drain all excess liquid in a colander, pressing the greens to ensure all liquid drains.
  2. Mix semolina flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well int he center.
  3. In the blender, mix the spinach, eggs, water, and olive oil until blended to a smooth consistency.  Add to the semolina flour and stir together until a rough dough forms.
  4. Use all-purpose flour to cover the work surface and dump the dough out onto the flour and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and soft, not sticky.  You will add up to 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour into the pasta dough while kneading.  Once a smooth ball forms from kneading, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. While dough is resting, prepare the butternut squash.  Coat the large skillet with olive oil again, heat on medium-high heat, and sauté the butternut squash until soft when poked with a fork and golden around the edges.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add olive oil to the same pan and add the sliced onion, maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion until golden and soft.  Add to the same bowl with the butternut squash and set aside.
  6. Press the dough through your pasta maker according to factory instructions.  Let the pasta dough rest on parchment paper and fill a large pot with water to boil.  Salt the boiling water; the fresh pasta will take just 3-4 minutes to cook.
  7. Drain the pasta and add the pan-roasted squash and caramelized onion with the pasta back into the large pot.
  8. Add just a sprinkling of olive oil into the large skillet, heat on medium, and add the walnuts and breadcrumbs, toasting quickly.  Off heat, add the parsley.  Toss all together with the pasta and squash.
  9. Serve with a sprinkling of olive oil, and extra gremolata toppings.

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Pumpkin. It’s What’s For Dinner.

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On with our pumpkin-y pumpkin-ness.  This beauty of a pumpkin was in a bin at the grocery store labeled “Autumn Color Pumpkins”.  I looked it up when I got home and discovered its official name is Jarrahdale.  I thought I would be confronting a pale or even white flesh, but imagine my surprise–and delight–when I cut into this pumpkin and found a glowing orange beauty of a pumpkin.

I used this medium-sized pumpkin for four separate meals, two different pastas, a pumpkin noodle dish, and a salad, so stay tuned!  I’m starting with the pastas, because wouldn’t you?!

Making your own pasta isn’t as difficult as you think.  And the results are well worth your time and effort.  I’ve tried a couple different pasta recipes, but my favorite is simply following the directions on the back of the bag from Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour.  When you’re adding flavors (i.e. veggies) to your pastas, the most important thing is to make sure you aren’t adding extra liquid.  Roasting is a good way to do that with the heartier vegetables–it adds a ton of flavor while slowly evaporating liquid, resulting in a sweet, creamy, flavorful, ready to eat squash.

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Only don’t dig in yet, we’re going to take it one step further!  Just blend your roasted pumpkin with eggs, water, and olive oil, and add it to your semolina mix.  Stir until it starts to form into a lumpy mass, dump it out on a floured surface, then call in your cutest sous chef to help knead your dough.

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I have dibs on mine.  When I’m making bread or pasta, he always comes running, drags his stool to the counter, and says, “Mama, I can help you mush mush mush!”  We use very technical terms in my kitchen.

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After kneading it and forming it into a ball, let it rest for 20-30 minutes, wrapped in a towel or plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.  About the time it takes to unload the dishwasher.  Or load it.  Or both.  There always seems to be an abundance of dishes in my sink.  {Except for when my mom visits and she graciously takes on dish duty.  I actually see the bottom of my sink for more than a few hours in the afternoon.}

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I normally use my KitchenAid pasta maker, but I got a new gadget I had to try out!  I cut the ball of dough in half and made both Fettuccine and Angel Hair, with the Pumpkin Fettuccine getting gourmet treatment in an Asiago Cream Sauce and topped with toasted walnuts.  Ummmm, yeah.  I’m drooling just typing this out.  Admittedly, this is vegetarian and not plant-based/vegan with the Asiago Cream Sauce, but it’s definitely worth the splurge.  {Or, if you aren’t into splurging, you could always make my Cauliflower Corn Cream Sauce, omitting the half and half.}

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PUMPKIN FETTUCCINE WITH ASIAGO CREAM SAUCE AND TOASTED WALNUTS

  • Servings: 4-6, depending on how hungry you are
  • Difficulty: on the harder end, since everything is from scratch--but well worth your Saturday afternoon
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I followed Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour Basic Pasta Recipe, and added Roasted Pumpkin.  You can definitely break up the labor over a couple of days–roast the pumpkin one day, store in the fridge, and add it to your pasta mix within 2-4 days from roasting.  Also, I used this amount of dough to make two different pasta dinners that served 2 hungry adults and had a small container of leftovers the next day.  If you wish to have less, cut the ingredients in half.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PASTA

  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

INGREDIENTS FOR THE ASIAGO CREAM SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups asiago cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the pumpkin into large chunks, skin on, cleaned of seeds, and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a cookie sheet and roast on the middle rack in the oven for at least one hour.  The pumpkin should be soft when poked with a knife or fork.  Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix semolina flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  In the blender, mix the roasted pumpkin, eggs, water, and olive oil until blended to a smooth consistency.  Add to the semolina flour and stir together until a rough dough forms.
  3. Use all-purpose flour to cover the work surface and to add to the dough while kneading.  Dump the dough out onto the floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and soft, not sticky.  You will add up to 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour while kneading.  Once a smooth ball forms from kneading, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Press the dough through your pasta maker–a fettuccine or linguine will work best for this recipe.  Let the pasta dough rest on parchment paper and fill a large pot with water to boil.
  5. While waiting for water to boil, scald the half and half over low heat; do not let come to a boil.  When you see tiny bubbles forming around the edge of the pot, turn off the heat and add the asiago cheese and stir until smooth.  The sauce will be thin, but the noodles will  slurp up the sauce and help thicken it.  Keep the cream sauce covered and warm until you add the pasta to it.
  6. When the water comes to a boil, season the water with salt and cook the pasta for 4-5 minutes {Fresh pasta cooks much faster than store-bought dry pasta}.  After 4-5 minutes, transfer the pasta to the pot with the cream sauce and let rest, uncovered.  The pasta will continue to cook with the warmth from the cream sauce and thicken.  Serve topped with toasted walnuts.

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