There is something special about working with your hands and producing something new, that didn’t exist an hour ago. Your hands get dirty, your kitchen gets messy and the flour reaches every possible corner and drawer. In the beginning, you’re slow and make mistakes, but the more you repeat every step, the better you get at it. It is a really mindful process, and there is a valuable lesson in learning how to enjoy the process and letting go of the expectation or eagerness for the end result.
Manual, creative or inventive work is something that many of us forget, with time. Most of us did a good bit of it at school when we were kids, but unless you have a “manual hobby”, it’s hard to find reasons to get our hands dirty in our everyday lives. Quite the opposite actually: we live and work in clean comfortable spaces, we carry out most of our work by typing into a computer and we follow routines that rarely challenge us to create something new.
Cooking brings me two kinds of joy: the food I eat and the mindful process I go through to produce that food. I find in cooking what I rarely find in my day-to-day, an opportunity to build things, make mistakes and exercise the “creative muscle”. I don’t expect everyone to enjoy cooking, but I do believe we can all feel some kind of joy from creating and building new things, from inventing. My little cousin likes scrapping, making slimes and baking. Others like playing guitar and improvising without a direction but to make beautiful sounds, decorating their house with DIY projects, fermenting food and drinks, building urban gardens to grow herbs and veggies…
Making pasta is one of the most mindful practices I’ve tried in the kitchen. It is a simple, slow, methodical process. It brings you to the moment, it keeps your attention on what you are touching, seeing and smelling. Like many mindful practices, it brings out the best and the worst in you.
The recipe here is not a complicated one: four ingredients plus a good amount of patience, love and attention to detail are required. The first time I made pasta it didn’t turn out perfect, but at the end of the day I had produced some decent enough pasta, it just didn’t happen immediately! It took a couple of rounds until I felt comfortable with the dough, the scraping, the pasta machine… Most good things in life are worth the work and patience, and this is one of them.
In this recipe, I used chickpea flour, also known as “gram flour”, because I read a post in My New Roots which explained how chickpea flour was just as easy and delicious when making pasta. I was really curious and wanted the challenge, but please feel free to use regular wheat flour if you don’t want to use or can’t find chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is gluten-free so if you are intolerant to gluten this is a good option for you.
I decided to make tagliatelle, but with the same dough I could’ve made any other type of flat pasta e.g. lasagna sheets, ravioli, spaghetti… You can eat this pasta fresh or freeze it for later, more on that below. You can have pasta with almost anything (maybe not nutella, but I’ve never tried…) but the recipe here includes: basil pesto, seared asparagus and prawns, and a whole lot of parmesan cheese. Really quick to make, even if you make the basil pesto at home.
If you try making the pasta let me know how it goes!
Recipe: Chickpea pasta
Total time: 1h30
Notes: 8 individual (1 portion = 60g approx). Unless you are a pro pasta roller, you will need a pasta machine for this recipe. I used an Imperia machine with double cutter (includes cutter for spaghetti, tagliatelle…).
Also grab a rolling pin and a hard spatula, or anything similar that can you can scrape with.
- 3 eggs
- 250-300g chickpea (gram) flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1tbsp olive oil
- Patience and detail
- Prepare your work station: make sure to have enough space, whipe and dry a work surface. Grab a bowl and add some chickpea flour in it. This will be useful in case the dough becomes too wet; keep it close. Grab a hard spatula, this will help you scrape any wet dough that sticks to the surface. On a different part of your kitchen (table, other counter) place 3 clean dry cutting boards or big flat plates; you will need them to place the freshly cut pasta.
- On the clean work surface place 250g of chickpea flour in a mound shape. Make a hole in the centre and crack the three eggs in it. Pour the olive oil and salt too. With your fingers, whisk the liquids together creating circles, from the centre, outwards, until it starts mixing in with the flour. If the dough is wet, add the rest of the chickpea flour. If the dough is dry, add a bit of water. Mix everything well and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Shape it into a ball, sprinkle and rub flour on it, wrap the dough in film and let it rest in a warm place for 30 mins.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Work with one 1/4 at a time, cover the rest while you’re working each portion.
- Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough until it has a rectangle shape. Fold both ends inwards, flip, and roll the other way. Do this 2 more times. Roll the dough into a long rectangular, the width of which should be the same or smaller than the pasta machine’s.
- Set the machine to its thicker setting (#6 in Impera), flour the dough and run it through. Repeat; if the dough runs through easily, set the machine to the next level, #5. If at any point the dough becomes sticky, flour both sides. When you reach #4 the dough might become too long, so just divide it into 2 portions and keep going. Run the dough through until it becomes slightly transparent (if you continue it might break). Once you reach that point, flour both sides of the 2 dough portions and run them through the tagliatelle cutter, one at a time. Place them neatly on the cutting boards you prepared.
- Repeat step (4) until you’ve gone through all 4 portions.
Eat fresh: Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt, stir well. Add your desired amount of pasta and let it cook for 2 mins. Keep an eye on the pasta, you don’t want to let it overcook and become soggy. Once the pasta is floating on the surface it usually means it’s ready. Use a strainer to drain the pasta. If you overcooked, place the strainer with the pasta under a cold water running tap, this will cool it down and stop it from cooking even more in its own heat.
Freeze for later: create small nests with small amounts of pasta. Place 4-5 nests in a plastic bag, making sure they are well separated. Repeat until you’ve “nested” all your pasta. Place in freezer and use anytime!
Recipe: Chickpea pasta with asparagus & prawns, in basil pesto
Total time: 15 mins
Notes: serves 2
- 120g chickpea pasta (or any other pasta!)
- 12 prawns + paprika + chili powder
- 10 asparagus
- basil pesto, store-bought or homemade
- olive oil to cook
- salt & pepper
- fresh basil to garnish
- Set a saucepan on the stove, fill with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile…
- Set a pan to medium heat, pour oil. Once hot, add chopped asparagus. Set aside once they’re slightly toasted and bright green.
- Now let’s cook the prawns: add to pan, pour a tsp olive oil and cook for 2 mins. Add 1 tsp paprika and 1/2 chilli powder. Cook until slightly toasted. Turn off heat and add asparagus to the pan again.
- Add pasta to the saucepan and cook until al dente. Drain and mix with basil pesto. Add prawns and asparagus. Done!