This exploration of color certainly rode into town on the coat tails of my amazement with Jello play and color layering. Color on color, flavor with flavor.
My favorite pasta dough is actually a bastardization of pasta. It’s a generic hot water dough that I use to make homemade potstickers. It’s just flour with hot liquid. I love using this dough for potstickers as it yields a chewy wrapper that holds up well to steaming and pan frying, and is so much more toothsome than store bought wrappers.
However, I have to admit, sometimes I’m not in the proper zone to package potstickers correctly, and give up on the cute bundling of ingredients concept. When this happens I roll the dough into logs, snip bits off into boiling water and then pan fry to yield little chewy crispy dough bits.
Another note of inspiration came in the form of beet powder I picked up for play from the Kiva’s bulk section. The store canister recommends making tea with it, but I actually scopped it up to use to powder more homemade marshmallows. This powder makes a great coloring additive to flour when making pasta.
I wanted to try out this hot water dough as noodles, but didn’t want to go dig out my pasta machine. I rolled it out into a thin sheet, and rolled it up to cut off ribbons of dough, using a procedure I see many times of Iron Chef. Unfortunatley the dough stuck to itself and didn’t unfurl into nice singular noddles. However the resulting swirl of dough was quite pretty. I took the next step with my beet powder in hand, and made intentionally sticky pretty Beet Orange Swirled Pastas.
They retain their color wonderfully through cooking, and yield a quite chewy product. I can imagine these pasta swirls floating quite magically in soup, or fried up as pasta chips. As this pasta dough is eggless it is also suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets…
Beet and Orange Swirled Pasta
Combine in a small saucepan, 1 cup of water, the zest of two oranges, and a pinch of saffron. Bring to a boil and simmer till the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain the hot liquid into a cup, returning the zest to the pan to dry out for further use.
In a food processor or bowl, combine 2 cups of flour with a pinch of salt. Slowly add the hot orange water to the flour with the machine running till the mixture comes together into a dough ball. Remove the dough to a plastic bag and allow to sit for one hour to allow the gluten to develop.
Heat up 3/4 cup of water for the second batch of dough. In a food processor or bowl, combine 2 cups of flour with a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbs of beet powder. Slowly add the hot water to the flour with the machine running till the mixture comes together into a dough ball. Remove the dough to a plastic bag and allow to sit for one hour to allow the gluten to develop.
Orange Zest Garnish
Heat the oven to 400F and sprinkle out the reserved orange zest on a baking sheet. Dry out in the oven till crumbly and still orange. Remove and allow to cool.
After the dough has rested, divide each color into 4 balls. Be mindful about keeping the pasta covered to prevent it from drying out. Roll out one ball of orange pasta dough as thin as possible, using flour to prevent sticking to your working surface. Set the orange sheet aside briefly. Roll out one ball of beet dough as thinly as possible inthe same dimensions as the orange sheet.
Using a spray bottle of water or a wet pastry brush, moisten the top layer of the beet dough with an even misting of water. Place the orange dough sheet directly on top of the wet surface and smooth with your dry hands to eliminate air bubbles. Roll gently to further flatten the combined layers.
Lightly spray the top surface with water again, and begin to roll your pasta. Begin at the edge furthest away from you by pinching a slight ridge along the top of the pasta sheets. Develop this edge into a roll as you roll the pasta sheets down towards you. When the sheets are rolled up completely, continue to roll out the log of dough, further lengthening it and thus decreasing the diameter of the pasta roll.
With a very sharp knife, cut the log in half, using the sharpness of the knife to cut through the pasta, as opposed to pushing the knife down through the dough. This will help keep the log intact more and prevent your design from getting squished.
Cut slices of dough off of the log as thinly as possible. Lay these out on a baking sheet. Cutting the slices fairly soon after making the dough logs is recommended, otherwise the beet pasta coloring will dull the orange pasta layer. Each of these half rolls yields approximately 40 slices of pasta. The slices can be frozen to be cooked at a later time.
Cooking the Pasta Swirls
Bring a large pot of salted water just to boil. With a strainer near by, drop the slices into the just simmer water. Gently stir the water to prevent the swirls from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove them from the cooking water when they float to the top, which should happen in just a few seconds.
Dressing the Pasta Swirls
My favorite way to eat this style of pasta dough is to pan fry it after boiling. This adds crisp to the chewy pasta.
For a quick easy salad, toss the cooked pasta swirls with
- sliced green onions
- rice wine vinegar
- the reserved orange zest garnish
- toasted walnuts
- slices of mandarin oranges
- and a final sprinkling of salt and pepper