One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday is take a stroll through a local farmer’s market, pick up some really fresh ingredients, plan a meal around them, and spend some quality time in the kitchen.
A few weeks ago I was poking around a market close to us (scenes from the market), and I picked up some really good stuff. When I got home I worked out a menu around it!
Here’s what I picked up from the market:
Here’s what I ended up doing for the menu!
This was a simple three ingredient salad, but it was very refreshing.
I added some strawberries that I had in the fridge. It’s not quite strawberry season I know, but they looked okay at the store. It’s the only major ingredient that I didn’t get at the farmer’s market.
Anyway, just add all your ingredients to a bowl! No need for a recipe, just use your eyes. The watercress has a nice peppery flavor that balances perfectly with the strawberries and creaminess of the cheese.
Of course, you can’t just eat salad on a Sunday night, so I made some…
Wild Mushroom Pappardelle
I wanted to really showcase the mushrooms because, well, look at these guys!
Plus I had the milk from the creamery so I could make a cream sauce and the eggs, while they would’ve been probably best just lightly fried, they worked great for a pasta also!
I haven’t made homemade pasta in a while honestly (I think this was the last time). I’m so far from an expert at this it isn’t even funny. I don’t even have a pasta roller. I just use my muscles as I imagine an Italian grandmother might.
Does my pasta turn out perfect? Definitely not. Does it turn out delicious? Yes. Seriously, homemade pasta is not something that you should fear.
Whole Wheat Pasta Dough (From Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)
– 1 Cup whole wheat flour
– 1 Cup all-purpose flour
– 1 Teaspoon salt
– 2 whole eggs
– 3 egg yolks
Making a well
This is the classic way to make pasta dough and let me tell you I’m not great at it. Ideally, mix up all your dry ingredients so they are evenly incorporated, then add them to a clean counter top, make a well in the middle and add your eggs and yolks to the well.
Looks great right?!
Then, ideally, use a fork to very slowly mix the eggs. The flour should slowly incorporate with the eggs until you have a nice ball of dough.
I couldn’t even take a photo of what happened to mine (and what has happened to mine every single time I try to make pasta). I think I get too anxious and eventually start singing “When The Levy Breaks” and then I knock a huge hole in my flour wall, eggs spill all over the place, and I have a small disaster on my hands.
But even with the mess, I can eventually mix together all of my flour and eggs and get it to form a pretty nice looking ball of dough! (I tell you all of this by the way to let you know that it can go horribly wrong and still turn out reasonably right.)
Knead this ball of dough for a few minutes. It’ll be very firm, but you should be able to work with it. After a few minutes of kneading, wrap it in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but an hour would work also. That’ll help the flour relax a bit.
Making the pasta
So this is the step that requires some work if you don’t have a pasta roller. Divide your dough ball in half and start rolling!
Don’t get in a hurry and use a good amount of flour to make sure your dough doesn’t stick. It’ll take a good amount of pressure and rolling and time to get your pasta the desired thickness. It should be pretty thin. If you hold it up to a light, you should be able to see through it.
My final rectangle was about 20 inches by 12 inches. And yes… you have to do this twice because this should only be half of your dough!
Next, just make sure your pasta sheet is well-floured, roll it up tightly and chop it up into ribbons. I made my ribbons pretty wide because that’s the pappardelle way. In fact, I probably could’ve made them even wider.
So I’m exaggerating a bit on how hard this was. Yes you do have to do this whole process twice to get through all your pasta dough, but the whole thing took me maybe 15 minutes. It wasn’t so bad and look at these awesome noodles I ended up with!
My idea for the sauce was just to cook the mushrooms with a tiny bit of onion in some butter and then add some cream/milk to it and make a mushroom cream sauce.
At the farmer’s market I found this great non-homogenized milk which basically means they’ve kept the cream and milk together instead of separating it into two products. If you look closely, you can see the faint line near the top of the bottle where the cream and milk meet.
I had about 3 Cups of chopped mushrooms and I just cooked them down in maybe 3 Tablespoons of butter for a few minutes along with 1/4 of a chopped onion over medium heat. Then I added about 1 1/2 Cups of my cream/milk and turned the heat down to low. You can definitely just use cream from the store in which case just use 1 cup as it will reduce really fast.
I added a few pinches of fresh thyme to the mix also which is optional I guess.
Cooking the pasta
If you’ve never cooked fresh pasta, it cooks pretty fast. My pasta was pretty thick and it took about 4 minutes to cook all the way through (cook it in salted water as with any pasta). Then I added my pasta straight to my sauce with some tongs and tossed everything together!
We started the meal with some of the salad. Honestly, I didn’t even feel the need to make a dressing for this salad. Just a spritz of lemon juice was enough.
Followed by the mushroom pappardelle!
This was a great meal and honestly, the pasta reheated a lot better than I thought it would. Just add a bit more milk to it when you reheat it and it’s perfect on day two or three!
Fresh ingredients and a bit of elbow grease are pretty much always guaranteed to produce a pretty solid meal!