Rain. Rain, rain, rain. There’s been a lot of it. We are lucky in the Northeast not to be dealing with the floods that have ravaged the middle of the country, but still: rain. It gets you down when days and days go by with no sight of the sun and the incessant drip, drip, drip of rain off the eaves threatens to drive you ’round the twist. I firmly believe, however, that every cloud has its silver lining: the trees, grass, in fact all the plants in our wooded backyard are soaking up all this rain and it is a wonderland of green out there.
In that wonderland of green, there is a back deck. And on that deck, there is a windowbox planter; just a plastic, rather ugly thing really, that I picked up at some big box store years ago. It lives on the back deck, all year round, because you see, despite the fact that it is ugly, and I would rather tuck it out of site, it is the only way I can grow chives. I buy a plant at the nursery: it dies. I plant seeds: they never germinate. Or three little shoots pop up, then promptly turn yellow and die. About 3 years ago, I planted chive seeds in this ugly windowbox planter, and about three spindly chives popped up and promptly died. But then, I got busy that Fall, and while most of my container garden got composted, scrubbed and tucked away in the garage for the winter, I never got around to dealing with this one windowbox. It sat all winter, through snow & ice, gathering dead leaves and Christmas tree pine needle run-off. It sat and sat. And then, round about April, when I had just been thinking that it was high time I cleaned it out and starting getting ready for the new garden season, a miracle happened: chives! Lots and lots of chives, thick, green, robust. Springing out of this ugly windowbox planter like noboby’s business. Since then I’ve tried replanting them into a mostly-sunny spot in the yard (as good as it gets in our shady green wonderland): no dice. I’ve tried replanting them in a less-ugly container to live on the deck: no joy. So, the ugly container sits, and will continue to sit, year in and year out. Because homegrown, free, miraculous chives? So. Worth. It.
This pasta is light and Springy, just what the doctor ordered for the it’s-been-raining-for-weeks-blues. And while homemade pasta seems like a crazy all-day task, it’s actually pretty quick & easy to make. I don’t have a pasta machine, so I roll and cut mine by hand (and anally cut my noodles with a ruler; I’m a perfectionist. So sue me.) but even so, it doesn’t take any longer than whipping up a stir-fry. Handmade pasta with magical back-deck chives, FTW. Whip some up tonight: you might even forget, for a few moments, about the rain.
- 1/4 cup (1 and 1/8 oz) whole wheat bread flour (hard red spring wheat)
- 1 and 3/4 cups (7 and 7/8 oz, for a total of 9 oz flour) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 small bunch chives, finely minced (about 3 tbsp)
- water (I needed only 3 tbsp in this damp weather)
- Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the flour, add the eggs to the middle, and add 2 tbsp of the water. Beat eggs with a fork or your fingers, then mix together with flour to form a soft dough; add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft but not sticky dough forms.
- Turn out onto a floured board and knead, flouring as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Double-wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
- Chop dough into 3 roughly equal pieces. Return 2 pieces to the refrigerator; pat the remaining piece into a rectangle. Using a floured rolling pin and work surface, roll dough out as thinly as possible (sprinkling additional minced chives over the surface if desired), into a rectangular shape. Loosen dough frequently, flouring the work surface, so that it does not stick. Using a ruler and a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the rectangle into ribbons, trying to keep them approximately the same size (so that they will cook evenly). Transfer noodles to a well-floured clean kitchen towel and allow to air-dry for at least 15 minutes (this helps maintain consistency and shape upon boiling). Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add pasta; replace cover on the pot until water returns to a vigorous boil. Cook at a high boil until pasta is al dente, about 2 or 3 minutes. Drain and toss with your favorite sauce; serve immediately.
Serves 4 – 6.
- Those with egg allergies can substitute water and/or olive oil. I noticed today that Ruhlman just posted on homemade pasta as well (great minds; I, too make my pasta dough in a bowl). His recipe uses 3 eggs to 9 oz of flour and no water. I like my pasta a little less eggy, but for you egg-lovers out there (oviphiles?), feel free to sub in an extra egg for the water.
- Any sort of finely minced Spring herb would work nicely; ramp greens, garlic chives, dandelion greens, parsley.
- I like whole wheat pastry flour in this because the fine grain makes it much easier to roll out by hand, and it holds together better than a coarser flour. If you have a pasta machine, you might consider increasing the amount of bread flour for a nuttier, more robust wheat flavor and more dense texture.
- I served this with a very simple sauce: butter, olive oil, a sliced garlic clove, snipped chives, salt & pepper. Sautéed briefly to melt the butter and mellow the garlic, then tossed with the noodles. Garnished with extra chives and a shaving or two of aged goat cheese, it was fabulous. The noodles are the star here: they don’t need much to improve them.
After a drying time of 15 – 60 minutes, fresh pasta can be stored refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can leave the noodles out on the floured towel, or drape them over a rod, to dry permanently (which will take 24 – 48 hrs), however, I am not sure about the fresh chives. They may dehydrate without issue, but they may mold. I haven’t tried it yet. Anyone else?
Spring. Rainy, rainy Spring.