Pasta has always been my “go-to” favorite for an easy, quick meal. Of course, that was when I purchased the pasta, pasta sauce, the meat or cheese (or both) and spices! Now that I know better and have more time, I have started canning my own pasta sauce, grinding my own beef and even growing and dehydrating my own spices! Naturally, I also make my own pasta. A couple of months ago I began experimenting with sourdough, and when I found a recipe on Cultures for Health for making sourdough pasta, I was all in!
My sourdough starter has performed very well. When I first told people I wanted to try sourdough, I was given all kinds of dire warnings about how I would have to bake every week or the starter would die. Well, I can tell you now from experience that I don’t have to make something with the starter every week – it hibernates just fine while in the refrigerator! All I really have to do is feed it by stirring in some flour and water once a week, set it back in the fridge, and all is well! I even forgot it for a few weeks, but once fed and out of the fridge, it perked up just fine!
Now that I have been experimenting with the sourdough starter for a while, when I plan a sourdough baking day, I make it worth my time! Instead of throwing away half the sourdough (oh no) and feeding the rest, then repeating every 8-12 hours for at least three feedings, I save all of the sourdough and feed it all! That way, I can make a lot of stuff with the sourdough!
This last week I made a bunch (eight, to be specific, but who’s counting!) of sourdough pizza crusts, shaped into rectangles (it fits better on my baking sheets and in the freezer) and partially cooked them before I froze them for future meals. Sourdough pizza is really delicious!
Then I made some bread. You can see this post on some of the first sourdough bread I made. The olive and parmesan loaf is wonderful! On this most recent epic sourdough day, I tried adding Italian flavoring to one loaf – oregano, basil and garlic – and it was really, REALLY good! I will do that again!
♪♫♪♪ O sole mio ♫♪♫♫
So, let’s see – two loafs of bread, eight pizza crusts… lots of sourdough starter left!
That’s when I went to the Cultures for Health website and saw it… Pasta!
I won’t go through all the recipe details here, but in a nutshell you add whole wheat flour to the starter along with egg yolks, mix it up until it forms a nice ball (not much kneading necessary) and then let it sit for at least 8 hours or over night. This allows the sourdough yeast to work it’s magic throughout the mix. I let mine rest overnight because I figured the longer it fermented, the better the dough would be for my health! I also assumed it would be easier to roll it out, and I was right.
The next morning I was happy to see that my sourdough pasta dough had become spongy, which is a good thing. Sourdough is more digestible than standard bread and more nutritious, also. Lactic acids help neutralize the phylates in flour which can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. The acids also slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream, lowering the bread’s glycemic index, preventing insulin spikes. They also make the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.
I grabbed a handful of the dough and rolled it flat with my handy-dandy pasta machine. One important note when rolling sourdough through a pasta roller – make sure both sides are floured first! If the dough is not floured, it will stick in the roller and make an epic mess! Haha – I know this well from experience! Of course, you can roll it out by hand. Once flattened, the pasta dough goes through the noodle cutter, which you can also do by hand. Waa Laa – sourdough pasta noodles! (waa laa means “there it is” in redneck French)
But then, where to hang them to dry? My dearest has already agreed to make me a pasta drying rack (thank you in advance, sweetheart), but what do I do now? Improvise! This large container with the wooden spoons laying across actually made a decent pasta dryer!
Don’t laugh, it works!
But I didn’t stop there. Did you expect me to?
I bought a ravioli maker last year because it looked like it would be an easy way to make a lot of raviolis. I got it on sale at Williams-Sonoma (free shipping also!) and when it came in the mail I had to set it aside because Christmas was coming, the goose was getting fat, and I had other things to do.
Today was the day to try it out.
First, I rolled out some of the sourdough pasta dough and got it pretty thin. Then, I laid the pasta on top of the ravioli maker after it had been floured, and gently… oh so very gently… pushed the dough into each depression.
Hmmm. I got a couple of tears in the dough, but was able to patch them. Then I filled each depression with a mixture of cooked chicken, some gouda and crimini mushrooms, all diced very small to fit a good mixture into the pockets.
Next, another sheet of pasta was rolled out and placed on top of the first! Then, all I had to do was take a wooden roller (included with the ravioli maker) and roll over the top, and – presto – ravioli!
I can see how I could spend an hour making a lot of raviolis and freeze them for several meals later in the month. After-all, once you have all the equipment out and everything is coated in a fine dust of flour , you may as well just get a bunch done! Right? Just remember to lay the ravioli on a parchment or waxed paper lined baking sheet and freeze for about an hour. Once frozen, you can throw them into a freezer bag or other freezer container and they shouldn’t stick together.
How did they turn out? Absolutely delicious! What would I do different? I think next time I will add a bit of sauce into the filling mixture so that it is more “full”. The chunks of chicken and mushrooms and cheese had pockets of air between them after they were cooked. Luckily, that didn’t effect the flavor, but I need to experiment just the same.
Whew – what a day – actually almost two! But look at what I accomplished – all done with Frank, my sourdough starter.
Frank? Well, yes. I name my cultures… don’t you? I decided to call him Frank because my specific culture is San Francisco Sourdough. Francisco… Frank… get it?
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