farmer's market rigatoni

farmer's market rigatoni

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Let me preface this post by saying that this recipe is mostly about the pasta--I just paired this pasta with what I happened to purchase at the farmer's market this week. Being in a new city, I've really enjoyed riding my bike to the local farmer's market on Saturdays. There are vendors selling everything from local meats to farm eggs to whatever veggies are in season. I like to challenge myself creatively by not having preconceived notions about what I'm going to find or buy--mostly because things change from week to week. I go with an open mind and try to choose whatever the vendors and farmers are most excited about--they would know better than I would. This week I bought bacon made from local heritage pork, english peas, lacinato kale (also sometimes labeled as italian kale, tuscan kale, or black kale), oyster mushrooms, raw cow's milk cheese, and Texas rose garlic. 

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I developed this pasta recipe specifically for extruded pasta (I've got pasta recipes for just about every shape or style). Extruded pasta refers to passing pasta dough through a barrel fitted with a large screw which presses the dough through a perforated plate specific to the type of pasta you are making which is then cut by a blade or wire. Think back to childhood and making play doh pasta by pressing it through a mold. This type of pasta is almost exclusively made with semolina flour, a course milled by-product of Durum wheat that is yellow in color. Without getting too heavily into the science aspect of milling wheat, white flour is almost exclusively comprised of the protein/starchy part of the grain which leaves behind the germ (protein/fat/vitamins) and the bran (fiber). These leftover parts are finely ground to make semolina. Now, I have found that the consistency varies widely between brands. Bob's Red Mill is more readily available, but is a little courser. I purchased my semolina from Amazon and it is a product of Italy and is a lot finer (you can find it here). Both will work for this recipe. Also, I am not sponsored by any of these producers, I just like these brands best. For the record, I buy pretty much 90 percent of the specialty ingredients I need from Amazon because I am a Prime customer and also I am lazy and hate going to 9 stores for one product. I have boxes coming all through the week--my husband can attest to the fact that it's a problem. 

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In terms of the extruder used for this recipe, I used the KitchenAid attachment for my stand mixer, but you can also find plenty of hand crank extruders or tabletop extruders on, you guessed it, AMAZON. This dough can be used to make any extruded pasta such as spaghetti, bucatini, macaroni, fusilli, etc. This dough is a slightly drier dough than what you'd roll through a pasta sheeter as the pressure from the extruder brings everything together. You can mix this dough by hand but I have a stand mixer and so I let it work for me, mixing the ingredients until the dough is crumbly but holds together when I press it with my fingers. I feed it into the extruder with the mixer running on medium speed (around 4-6 if you have a KitchenAid), piece by piece and use the tamper to press the dough in. When the pasta comes through the extruder I cut the pieces to be about an inch and a half. The whole process is actually pretty easy and I really like this attachment for my non-flat pasta making needs. To clean the extruder pieces, I wait for the bits to dry and it makes them much easier to clean out of the press. Speaking of drying, this pasta can be dried and stored in an airtight container for a couple of months (christmas gifts, hint hint) and is really great with just a simple marinara sauce and some good parmesan or as the base for your favorite mac n' cheese recipe. However, if you feel inclined to patronize your local farmer's market, you can find below how I made my rigatoni. Happy eating, folks!

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EXTRUDED PASTA RECIPE:

330 g semolina flour
55 g water
3 g sea salt
3 g baking soda
2 eggs

1. Weigh all ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer or a medium mixing bowl. Mix with the paddle attachment until all ingredients are combined and dough is crumbly and clumping together in pieces. Alternately, mix by hand until dough is as described above. 

2. Fit your stand mixer with a pasta extruding attachment fitted with the rigatoni plate. Dust a small sheet tray or plate with extra semolina flour. Feed your dough, piece by piece, through your pasta extruder and cut when pasta reaches desired length (I cut mine at about an inch and a half). Spread pasta out on sheet tray evenly to dry a little and to keep new pasta from falling on top of old pasta. Pasta can be dried overnight and stored in an airtight container for a couple of months or cooked after about an hour in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. 

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FARMER'S MARKET PASTA:
serves 4

1 cup shelled English Peas
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper

4 slices good bacon, diced
1/2 lb lacinato kale, washed and tough stems removed and chopped
1/3 lb oyster mushrooms, torn into strips

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used leftover bread, let it dry and pulsed it in the food processor)
2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter (or perhaps some reserved bacon fat from above)
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper

cooked rigatoni, drained and rinsed slightly, 1/3 cup pasta water reserved

1. To make breadcrumbs: Heat oil in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

2. To make pea-parmesan cream: In a small saucepan, add cream and peas. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, until peas are just tender*. Add cream, peas and parmesan to a blender and blend until smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for later use, but any extra can be kept in the fridge for 1 week. 

3. To cook bacon: Start by heating skillet over medium-low heat. Add diced bacon to cold pan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crispy**--about 25 minutes. Remove bacon from pan and transfer to a small bowl until ready to use. Drain all bacon fat except for 2 Tablespoons (save the fat and refrigerate for later use--TRUST ME).

4. With bacon fat in the pan, turn heat up to medium-high. When pan is hot, add oyster mushrooms*** in a single layer in the pan. Cook, without turning, for 5 minutes until golden brown, flip, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add kale to the pan and cook until wilted. Add bacon back to the pan. Stir in 1 cup pea parmesan cream and reserved pasta water. Add cooked pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce has coated pasta and has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with garlic breadcrumbs and more cheese, if desired (it should always be desired). I topped mine with some of the grated raw cow's milk cheese from the market.

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* cooking peas past tender turns them yellowish and ugly. we want the sauce to be BRIGHT green, so only cook the peas until they are no longer crunchy. 

** animal fats melt at low, constant temperatures. if you were to add bacon to a hot pan, the meat would burn before the fat ever really melted. starting bacon in a cold pan over low heat helps pull more of the fat out and allows the bacon to get crispy. 

*** all mushrooms are mostly water. if you want to get golden brown color on mushrooms, you must start them in a very hot pan. if you cook them over low heat, they will release water and just boil without ever getting the great texture that comes with golden brown color. DO NOT EVER season mushrooms until the very end of their cooking process. salt causes water to be released and you will end up with boiled mushrooms. you'll notice in this recipe i don't season the mushrooms at all and instead allow the seasonings from the rest of ingredients to carry the dish. 

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