Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oodles of Noodles

I love Saturdays. Every other day of the week is filled with work and routine, but Saturday is my one day to really "play" in the kitchen. That's the way it was for my mom. Early Saturday morning I would awake to the aroma of yeast dough proofing in the pantry, waiting to be formed into rolls or coffee cake. And while waiting for the dough to rise there would be a pie in the making--apple, peach, maybe apricot, rhubarb, or (Daddy's favorite) gooseberry.

And then, in the afternoon while the bread was baking and the pies were cooling, mom would make dough for egg noodles.

Mom made the most amazing noodles. They were rolled by hand--paper thin and light as air. And when she wasn't looking (or so I thought) I would grab a bit of the raw dough and pop it in my mouth. Flour-y, eggy, salty wonderfulness!! As the years passed Mom's arthritis made it impossible for her to wield the rolling pin that formed those thin layers of pasta dough. So Daddy bought a pasta machine for her.

I have Mom's pasta machine now, and whenever I use it I think of her. Today with the help of Mom's pasta buddy I made noodles. But these were no ordinary noodles. In my pantry is a large (I mean REALLY large) package of sliced almonds. I found them in our local warehouse store, and they were just too great of a bargain to resist. They have appeared in salads, cakes, and cookies. 

And today they served as my inspiration for fettuccine.  Almond fettuccine. Here's how I did it:

Homemade Almond Noodles
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tablespoon wheat gluten*
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg

Process almonds in food processor until ground. However, don't process to the point of having almond butter. There should be a bit of texture in your pasta. To the same bowl add the wheat gluten, salt, and flour. Pulse until mixed. Add the egg and process until a stiff dough forms and cleans the sides of the bowl. This will take a few moments and a bit of patience. At first it will seem that the dough will not come together--it will be a bowl full of crumbs. But as the gluten in the flour breaks down your dough will come together. Trust me!

With a pasta machine or by hand roll dough out to desired thinness. Use machine or knife to cut into strips of desired width.

Here are what my almond noodles look like after being rolled and cut. After they dry a bit I'll cook them in boiling salted water for a few minutes and serve with melted butter and fresh parsley. YUM!

* wheat gluten is available in health-food stores and in many major grocery stores in the baking goods section. Gluten provides the "glue" that binds dough and makes it sticky and pliable. A bit of gluten is needed in this recipe because almonds (which do not contain gluten) are taking the place of some of the flour.

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