Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chestnut Pasta

When I went to the Chestnut Festival two weeks ago I made sure to pick up some chestnut flour. I have limited experience working with different kinds of flours and I was curious to play with the chestnut flour and see what kind of results I would get.
Organic Chestnut Flour (Farina di Marroni BIO), Soft Wheat Flour (Farina di Grano Tenero), Pasta Eggs
Since I was not so crazy about the chestnut desserts I tried at the festival, I decided to start my chestnut cooking adventure with chestnut pasta. Instead of using 100% soft wheat flour, as I usually do when making pasta, I substituted 1/3 of the flour with chestnut flour. When I cut open the bag of chestnut flour, I immediately noticed the flour has a distinctive smell. It smells smoky and immediately brought to mind this imagine.
La Sfoglia (the sheet of pasta)
When I first mixed together the flour and eggs the pasta, which is usually a vibrant yellow from the special pasta eggs, had a darker, more muted coloring to it. When I rolled out the sfoglia (the sheet of pasta) was almost orange in color and played perfectly into my idea of creating a quintessential fall time dish. I made the pasta into tagliatelle (long, flat noodles) and cappellacci (stuffed pasta) filled with butternut squash.
The stuffed pasta is now in the freezer – to be saved for another day (TIP: Stuffed pasta freezes like a gem. Flash freeze it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 30 minutes. Once the pieces are firm then you can put them in a plastic bag and they will not stick to each other. When you are ready to eat them, you can take out however many you want from the bag and put them directly into the boiling water to cook.)
The tagliatelle was tonight’s dinner. I made a white ragĂș sauce from ground turkey and chicken sausage with hints of rosemary and bay leaf.
The verdict? Delicious! At first the pasta did not seem that different from normal pasta but as I ate I noticed the flavor of the pasta really came through at the end of each bite. A slightly sweet, nutty flavor was left lingering on my palate at the end of each bite – inviting me to dive back into the dish for bite after bite until the whole plate was finished.

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