Hey! Look what I got for Christmas!
Not sure? That would be a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Rad! I no longer have to live in fresh-pasta free zone! Now what to do with it…
Thank goodness for my other Christmas Present: The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. I, like most of my friends, look forward to the dining section of the NYtimes every week. Wednesday morning, during my commute to work, is my time to peruse the newly-published section; God bless the NYtimes app. When I read about this book, part history lesson and part updated cooking bible, I knew I had to have it. All of the most popular, and a few of the most over-looked, recipes published in the last 100+ years of Times history, all tested an updated and accompanied by endearing and interesting head-notes, compiled into one neat package: done and done.
The problem here was that I wanted to make fresh pasta, but it’s still early January. Early January after the New Years hangover has subsided means I feel like I should be eating nothing more that veggies and lean protein…in moderation. Certainly, a heavy bowl of fresh, carb-filled pasta is not in order. But I had a new toy! I had to use it! So to the books I went to find something light, heathy, a bit earnest. It wasn’t difficult at all.
Yogurt, thick and tangy, served with nothing more than deeply caramelized onions, and salty cheese? Strangely simple and possibly delicious; I had to give it a try. Have you given in to the Greek yogurt yet? If not, you should. It’s not like the yogurts you grew up with; the yoplaits, the dannons, the fruit-on-the-bottoms (side-note: ick, fruit-on-the-bottom). It’s instead creamy and sour; more sour cream than the yogurt you know; perfectly balanced with some sweet honey and crunchy nuts; heaven on a spoon. Yes, I would try this, but not without a tiny bit of tinkering. In my post-holiday haze I felt I needed some greenery and decided that sauteed spinach would be the trick. Spinach, after all, is the main ingredient in spanikopita, my favorite Greek dish if you forget about grilled octopus, and it just loves caramelized onions!
Right decision folks, right decision. Guys, this pasta is sososogooood. It one of those strange mysteries of chemistry I think, that just a few simple ingredients work together to make something so tasty. I, again in my early-January haze, used fat free Greek yogurt and it was so good that I can only imagine how amazing it would be with some 2% or whole milk yogurt. I love when I find a recipe that reminds me that sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying.
P.S. Thank you so much, Santa, for my new toys. All of you.
Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions From Kassos
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser; original recipe from Diane Kochilas. Serves 4-6.
The only modifications I made to this recipe was to add spinach, cuz it made sense to me, and to use fresh pasta, because, duh, new pasta roller toy. The original recipe calls for straining yogurt through cheese cloth. Instead, I used strained Greek yogurt (Fage 0%) and I suggest you do the same. If you used store-bought pasta, this would be a really quick, really healthy meal. A word to the wise: this pasta only keeps moderately well. I’m more tolerant of left-overs than most, so I kind of love it, but the yogurt does soak into the pasta, which becomes simultaneously more soft and more dry…so save with caution! Oh, just eat it all at once.
2 c. strained Greek yogurt
4 T. olive oil
6 c. coarsely chopped onions
salt and pepper
1 lb dry store-bought tagliatelle (also known as fettuccine), or 1 recipe fresh pasta (recipe below)
6 oz. baby spinach
1 c. coarsely grated kefalotyri or Pecorino Romano cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and saute until they are deep brown, about 30 minutes (DON’T rush this step! It’s where most of the flavor comes from!)
- While the onions brown, cook the pasta in a large pot of VERY salty boiling water (the water should taste like sea water) until soft (not al dente). If using dry, store-bought pasta, cook for a couple minutes longer than the package directions state. If using fresh pasta, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of your noodles, but will probably be ~2-4 minutes-just taste them!
- Drain the pasta and reserve about 1 c. pasta water
- When the onions are done, remove them to a plate. Immediately add the spinach to the same skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until just wilted
- In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, 1/2 c. pasta water, and spinach
- Toss the pasta with the yogurt sauce, divide into bowls, liberally sprinkle with cheese and top with caramelized onions
Basic Pasta Dough
From Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta
3 c. all-purpose flour
4 lg eggs
1 T kosher salt
1 T olive oil
- Add the flour to the bowl of a food processor
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, salt and olive oil
- Add the egg mixture to the flour and pulse to combine; scrape the sides once or twice
- Dump the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and knead gently until smooth
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 min before rolling
At this point you’re on your own! Depending on what kind of pasta roller you have (kitchenaid attachment, hand crank, etc.), the next steps may be different, so refer to your machine’s guide! What you want to end up with, though, are long noodles about the width of fettuccine. I cut mine by hand with a pair of kitchen shears, and yes, they’re more like pappardelle than fettuccine. Who cares!? It’s my pasta, afterall 🙂 Just make sure your dough is lightly floured before feeding it into the machine, and you should be just fine!