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.