Thursday, October 7, 2010

Noodling Around

It may or may not be thrifty, but noodling around is fun…and delicious.

If you wonder why I say pasta- or noodle-making may or may not be thrifty, I'll tell you. We buy bulk quantities of both whole-grain durum-wheat flour and all-purpose flour, and use a 50-50 mixture of these. We buy our eggs from a local farm at greatly reduced prices. And we buy bulk containers of olive oil. These key ingredients are used in such small proportions of the whole the actual cost per recipe is mere pennies. If we were to buy the usual grocery store sized products, costs would rise dramatically and be closer to parity with commercially-made dried pasta. So, for us, using products bought in bulk and at much reduced prices, achieves tremendous saving over store-bought noodles, particularly if using "fresh" pasta.

Now, some will note that "time is money" and making pasta is much more time consuming than using store-bought. This time cost decreases over time, though. The more often you make the recipe, the more familiar it becomes and the process goes much quicker. For us, taste and texture make this time well spent.

The savings achieved isn't the main reason for making home-made pasta. Sauces adhere better to home-made noodles. The boiling water doesn't foam up like it is prone to do with store-bought pastas. Home-made pastas cook much more quickly than commercial pastas, either fresh or dried. And, as a bonus, sodium content can be controlled.

But, these are all just niceties.

The main reason we make our own pasta is flavour. Flavour is king! Particularly since I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and I began working to lower it and get my weight down. If I must enforce portion controls and endure a reduced-sodium diet, I want the foods I do eat to pack a flavour punch. Pasta isn't the biggest, boldest flavour on the plate, certainly, so any boost it can get is fabulous, in my view.

We had the good fortune to inherit my mother's pasta machine, but they aren't a necessity. There are several simple shapes that can be made with a rolling pin, a paring knife and a few other common kitchen utensils. Here's a handy article by which gives measurements and instructions on cutting and shaping pasta by hand.