Sweet Potato Pasta

Ever since I got my new pasta maker, I’ve been thinking about different kinds of pastas I could make. One that I’ve always wanted to try is sweet potato pasta.

Having never made it before, I needed to find a basic recipe. Unfortunately, my library of cookbooks offered no help.

My next step was the internet. My search for “sweet potato pasta recipe” yielded hundreds of recipes for pasta with sweet potatoes, but I was able to find only one for pasta made from sweet potatoes, and it looked wildly inaccurate.

Still, I copied it down and headed for the kitchen.

After roasting off three sweet potatoes for about an hour at 375F and letting them cool, I mashed them with my potato masher.

Then I separated two eggs and used the whisk attachment to my Kitchen Aid to whip the egg whites to soft peaks, about two minutes on high.

Next I folded in about one cup of the mashed sweet potato into the egg whites, a little at a time.

Normally, I just use all-purpose flour when I make pasta. And the sweet potato pasta recipe I found called for whole wheat flour. But I found this semolina flour, which is what commercial pastas normally are made from, so I used that instead. Semolina flour has a much coarser grind than AP flour. The grains are sort of halfway between AP flour and the grind used for corn meal.

I switched my Kitchen Aid to the dough hook attachment and added about 2-1/2 cups of flour until the dough started to form. It took about five minutes.

Then I kneaded it by hand for a few minutes, adding more flour as necessary. It took probably about another 1/2 cup of flour, as the sweet potatoes made the dough quite wet.

After letting it rest for a few minutes, I used a chef’s knife to cut it into four peices.

Then I set up my new pasta maker, which is my new favorite toy.

Starting with the rollers set at the widest setting, I rolled each peice of dough through the pasta makers several times, narrowing the rollers a little as I went along. All the while, I was throwing more flour on the dough to keep it from sticking to itself and to the pasta machine.

Finally, I attached the pasta cutter attachment to the pasta maker and cut the dough into fettucini.

After the pasta is cut, it needs to dry out for about 30 minutes because it’s still too damp. If I threw it into boiling water right  away, it would clump up.

After the pasta has dried, it can be placed in an airtight bag and refrigerated or even frozen until you are ready to use it. But I brought a big pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cooked the pasta for about six minutes.

There’s such a huge flavor and texture difference between freshly made and commercial pasta. This sweet potato pasta turned out exactly as I had hoped.

Sweet Potato Pasta

1 cup Sweet Potato, cooked, cooled and mashed

2 egg whites

3 cups Semolina Flour, plus additional flour to prevent dough from sticking

Pinch of Sea Salt

1. Whip egg whites to soft peaks, then fold in sweet potato a little at a time. Add salt.

2. Using dough hook attachment, add flour a little at a time and mix on medium until dough begins to form. Remove from bowl, knead by hand, adding additional flour as needed. Let rest under a clean kitchen towel for at least 10 minutes.

3. Cut dough into four peices. Starting with the rollers at the widest setting, feed the pasta through the machine several times, progressively narrowing the rollers. Sprinkle rolled sheets with flour and store under a towel while rolling the remaining pasta.

4. Add pasta cutter attachment to machine and cut into desired pasta type. Lay out on racks to dry for at least 30 minutes. Cook immediately or store in an airtight bag in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

What types of unusual pastas do you like to make. I can’t wait to try squid ink, but I have to source it first. Share your ideas in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!

Meat Free Mondays — Acorn Squash Ravioli

Father’s Day arrived early for me this year. Check out my new toy:

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I used to own a pasta maker, but through neglect I let it rust out. That inspired me to get a new one, as well as this ravioli maker:

We’re calling it my Father’s Day gift for this year. Much better than a tie!

I couldn’t wait to start playing with it. For my first pasta, I decided to make acorn squash ravioli.

Making fresh pasta is not only fun and economical, but it tastes far better than commercially produced pasta, even those that are sold as “fresh”.

The difference between homemade pasta and storebought is like the difference between the birthday cake your mom made for you as a child and a Hostess cupcake. In other words, there is no comparison.

Pasta is very simple to make and you don’t necessarily need a pasta machine, although it’s way easier if you do. There are all kinds of pasta recipes, but the most basic one is simply eggs and flour formed into a dough and then rolled out thin, either with a rolling pin or with a pasta machine.

For this recipe, I added a little salt for flavor and a few tablespoons of water to get the consistency of the dough right.

You can even make different color pasta by using all-natural coloring agents such as spinach, tomato puree or even squid ink. You can even make striped ravioli if you like.

Ravioli can be filled with anything you like, including ground meat, cheese, finely chopped vegetables, potatoes, you name it. Best of all, you can make up a big batch of ravioli, enjoy half of it for dinner right away, and save the other half for another time in the freezer. They cost literally just pennies to make and they taste amazing.

Acorn Squash Ravioli

For the Filling

1 cup Acorn squash, cooked

1/2 cup Cream Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 clove Garlic, crushed

Sea Salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

1. Combine acorn squash, cheese and garlic in a mixing bowl and mix together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the Ravioli

2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1/2 tsp Sea salt

2-3 TBS Water

1. Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl, then use your fingers to make a hole in the middle. Crack eggs into the hole, then use a fork to mix together, slowly incorporating the flour a little at a time until a dough is formed, adding a little of the water if necessary. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth, about five minutes. Cover with clean kitchen towel and set aside.

2. Assemble pasta machine or flour a work surface. Separate the dough into four peices. If using the pasta machine, set the rollers to their widest setting, then flatten one of the dough balls with your hands and feed it into the roller using the crank handle. Fold the sheet in half and feed it through the rollers again. Adjust the rollers to the next narrowest setting and repeat the process. Then adjust the rollers again and continue rolling out the dough until it is paper thin. Lay the pasta sheet flat on a floured work surface, sprinkle with flour and cover with clean kitchen towel. Repeat the process for the three remaining dough balls.

3. To assemble ravioli, lay one pasta sheet over the metal ravioli frame, then use the plastic insert to create dimples in the pasta. Carefully use a spoon to fill each dimple with about one teaspoon of the filling, then lay a second pasta sheet over the top. Use a rolling pin to press the two sheets together firmly, then pull away the excess pasta on the sides and discard. Use your fingers to carefully pick up each ravioli and set on a floured baking sheet to dry for 30 minutes, then turn each ravioli over and let dry another 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining two pasta sheets. At this point the ravioli can be frozen for later use, if you would like.

4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook eight minutes. Drain and serve.

I served mine with my simple, all-purpose tomato sauce and some freshly shaved parmesan. I served it with this simple herbed bread recipe I’ve been making a lot lately, as well as sauteed zucchini, having been inspired by this post by The Ranting Chef.

Can I just say: Best. Father’s. Day. Ever!