Pasta Possibilities

If you are a reader of Ruth’s Presto Pasta Nights, you already know that pasta is really so much more than noodles and red sauce and has about a zillion possible ways you can jazz it up. With the arrival of my pasta roller attachment for my KA mixer, my universe just got a little bit bigger. You see, I actually did already own a hand-crank-roller-thingamagig, but my counter tops didn’t have quite the necessary amount of overhang to get it to clamp down securely, and rolling out pasta was, for lack of a better term, a pain in the butt. So the old fashioned roller sat prettily on my counter top, letting people think I was some kind of Italian housewife in training, but really I only broke it out for very special occasions (I think there were about 5 ravioli making marathons for which the roller got used). So anyway, I digress. I purchased the roller attachment for the KA mixer (just the roller, not the cutters) in hopes that it would make my pasta making just a little easier. Well, turns out this thing is pretty darn great. If you know me, you know I can’t leave well enough alone and I never take the “safe” route by trying something similar. No, you see, I had this bag of hazelnuts calling to me to be used, and I decided that a hazelnut sage pasta in pumpkin cream sauce would be a really fabulous meal to break in my roller. And, a fun submission for Presto Pasta Nights.

For this dish, I’d prefer to just discuss what I did rather than try to write out a recipe. Because most of the time, I really do just make things up as I go, and I hope my description of technique can help someone create their own dish, rather than just following my “recipe”.
For the pasta, I began with hazelnuts that I had previously toasted and removed the skins from. Toasting the hazelnuts really brings out the flavors, not to mention, I don’t think the skins would be very good in the pasta. I ground these up in my mini prep food processor, and measured out a half cup. I combined this in my larger food processor (fitted with the dough blade) with 1 cup of AP flour and about 2 teaspoons of finely minced fresh sage. With the machine running on dough speed, I slowly poured in water, just enough till the dough came together in a ball, and then let it kneed for about a minute. Then, I removed the dough and let it rest under a damp dishcloth for about 20-30 minutes. Rolling with the attachment was quite easy and painless. I cut my ball of dough into several smaller portions, and passed them several times through the widest setting, folding in between passes – this completes the kneading process. When you’re satisfied here, you’ll gradually narrow the gap between the rollers as you roll the pasta thinner and thinner. For this dough, I actually kept it rather thick and only went down one or two settings, since the nuts were not as fine as the flour. I think if I made this again, I might pass the nuts through a sieve to remove the larger pieces, but then again I did sort of like the nutty texture to the pasta. So it’s really just a matter of preference. I laid the sheets out to dry a bit, and just before boiling, I sliced them into long strips for fettuccine.
For the sauce, I began with some diced onions and sauteed them in a touch of butter. I added a clove or two of minced garlic, and sliced cremini mushrooms, and cooked until it was all soft. I deglazed the pan with some chardonnay and added chicken broth and brought it to a simmer. At this point I stirred in some pumpkin puree – here’s where I goofed a little. I think I used way too much (too much pumpkin? for me? yes). I used about a 1/2 cup, but next time I’d reduce it to a quarter, because it was way too thick, even when I tried to add additional broth to thin it out. Anyway, I cooked it for a little, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with a touch of half and half and additional chopped sage. I spooned this over the hazelnut-sage fettuccine and garnished with a fresh grating of fontina.

The verdict from the almost-hubby was that this was delicious and surely he’d like to eat it again. The verdict from me? My pasta roller is fantastic, making this an easy enough meal for a weeknight, and I can surely try it again and tweak the sauce to get it just right.

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6 Responses to “Pasta Possibilities”

  1. 1

    Nunnie's Attic — October 2, 2007 @ 4:47 pm Reply

    Cara,I’m so glad you enjoy your new gadget. I don’t have one for my KA. I do it the old fashioned way. Plus, I have my dad’s hand crank and my Nunnie’s ravioli maker. I’m not sure that I would like this dish but I’m not 100% sure. I’m not a fan of nuts in anything and I definitely don’t like mushrooms. But, creminis are baby bellas and I can eat those in moderation. I love pumpkin. So…can I just taste yours first?? I’ll be over around 7ish!Love,Julie

  2. 2

    Kevin — October 2, 2007 @ 11:57 pm Reply

    The hazelnut pasta sounds really good and with a pumpkin sauce! mmm… I wish I had a bit more space in my “kitchen” for some more devices.

  3. 3

    winedeb — October 3, 2007 @ 5:51 pm Reply

    Since it is the fall season, I pulled my machine out of the closet the other day telling myself pasta would be on the menu sometime this week. Has not happened yet but you have just inspired me! I have a KA but not the pasta attachment – Yet. Your recipe looks yummy!

  4. 4

    Ruth Daniels — October 5, 2007 @ 12:42 pm Reply

    I am jealous..the pasta making attachment for my KA is on my wish list…hopefully someone will get the hint soon ;-)The hazelnut in the pasta itself is so cool, my daughter and I will definitely have to try it on one of our pasta making days.Thanks so much for sharing with resto Pasta Nights.

  5. 5

    Nora B. — October 5, 2007 @ 10:49 pm Reply

    Hi Cara, this pasta dish sounds terrific. Hazelnut and pumpkin – yumm!

  6. 6

    Abby — October 6, 2007 @ 9:58 am Reply

    Hi Cara, I love the idea of adding ground nuts to the pasta dough!

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