Before we dive into it all, some general culture updates:
More people in my circles than ever before are making the Alison Roman Caramelized Shallot Pasta, a sure sign that pasta is the ultimate comfort food. If you're vegetarian/vegan or simply don't have anchovies on hand, feel free to swap in some capers (just as briny and salty)! I’m convinced that Alison Roman’s pasta and dalgona coffee are the Foods of the Apocalypse.
If you haven't seen Portrait of a Lady on Fire or Parasite yet, both movies are now on Hulu and deserve your immediate attention. Fun date idea: if you're in social distance with someone else, watch Portrait and then re-enact it by drawing your partner only from memory. We might not be able to go abroad but we can still pretend we’re living in a coastal French chateau period piece.
THIS WEEK: CHICKPEAS, PASTA, SAUCE
The theme of this week's newsletter is pantry AND fancy: vegan pasta dough, a super-simple oven-roasted chickpea snack, and homemade red sauce. A full meal!
Oven-Roasted Crispy Chickpeas (the lazy approach to Ceci Fritti)
These are an excellent pre-meal snack, perhaps with something fizzy (wine? water? beer?). You can also jazz them up several ways — my go-to spice blend for these is listed below, but you can modify to suit your taste buds. This is my favorite way to eat chickpeas, and also the easiest way to cook them. Coincidence? Perhaps... perhaps not.
Note: chickpea water, also known as aquafaba, is just starchy enough to act as a binder and therefore is often used in place of eggs in the vegan world. It's a versatile egg substitute that you can get by simply opening up a can of chickpeas and saving the water they're in. The next time you're making chickpeas, save the chickpea water!
1 can of chickpeas (do not drain the precious chickpea water)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Open a can of chickpeas and drain them. SAVE THE CHICKPEA WATER in a small bowl. It'll look starchy and thick. That's what'll make the magic happen in the pasta dough. (See? The whole evening comes together by you just opening a can.)
Rinse the chickpeas and allow the water to drain. You can let the rinsing water go.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the chickpeas with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. When sufficiently coated, evenly spread chickpeas on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and bake for 30-45 minutes.
Baking times are flexible with this one, as the optimal level of crunch varies by person. Take one out at 25, and if you're satisfied by the crunchiness, pull the whole tray out. If not, continue to check every 5-8 mins until you're satisfied.
Allow to cool, then serve.
Vegan Pasta Dough
This is where the ✨ magic ✨ happens. Filled pastas are challenging for vegans, as they often require egg or another binding agent. However, this is where the chickpea water from the ceci comes in handy — aquafaba baby!!!
Before starting on my vegan pasta dough adventure, I did some very important pasta flour research. It looks like all-purpose or 00 flour yield the best results when making filled pastas, but semolina is king in the unfilled pasta world. Feel free to play around with the composition of your dry ingredients (I used a 2:1 ratio of all-purpose to semolina for a filled pasta because I was running out of all-purpose).
1/3 cup aquafaba, or as much as you can get out of a can of chickpeas
2 cups flour (all purpose, semolina, and/or 00)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then use your fingers to form a well in the center.
Gradually add aquafaba, continuing to stir as you do so. Once all the aquafaba has made it into the bowl, drizzle in olive oil and continue to stir until a shaggy dough forms.
Once the dough is shaggy, it's time to knead the dough (pasta dough is a lot tougher than other doughs you might be familiar with, so it takes some getting used to - but it's a great arm workout and allows the gluten to develop). Knead the dough for about five minutes, maintaining a ball shape.
Wrap the ball of pasta dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has completed its rest, it's ready to be shaped into pasta. If you're following along with me and want to make ravioli, take a third of the ball of dough and flatten it, flouring both sides.
Using a rolling pin, continue to flatten and thin the rectangle. Flip the dough, sprinkling flour as you go, so that the dough doesn't stick to your surface. Once the dough is approximately 1/8" thin (or thinner) and a large rectangle, you’re ready to fill.
Cut the dough into squares of roughly the same size and spoon your choice of filling onto the dough, then seal tightly. As a non-vegan, I went the ricotta route, but butternut squash, kale, or mushrooms are equally good contenders. If you need help shaping your ravioli, follow these Bon Appetit instructions.
Cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling water, removing with a slotted spoon as soon as they float to the surface (2-3 minutes, usually).
Serve immediately with sauce of choice. Perhaps,,, the one below?
Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce
1 can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, if you have them, are ideal)
5 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp red pepper flakes, optional
8-10 leaves basil, optional
Empty the can of whole peeled tomatoes into a medium-sized bowl. With clean hands, crush the tomatoes by hand. Bonus: this might make you feel powerful.
Pour 3 tbsp olive oil into a large pot over medium heat, then add red pepper flakes, if using.
After about 30 seconds, add diced onion and saute until golden, then add garlic.
Once garlic is fragrant, add the tomatoes to the large pot and allow to come to a boil.
Lower the heat and cook over a low flame for about 45 mins, or until sauce has reduced by ½. Remove from heat, drizzle the remaining olive oil on top, and stir in the basil.
This sauce can be stored in the fridge for several days and used in pasta, pizza, or in place of tomato paste when making soup. If using this sauce with pasta, save ¼ cup of the pasta water right before draining, and stir it into the sauce over low heat to thicken it up (in this house we love starchy water).
Thanks for tuning in to this week's edition of pantry essentials turned fancy! If you make any or all of the things in this newsletter, please tag me @farmersmktfemme on Instagram. I’d love to see your creations (and wine pairings)!