I love Saturdays. Every other day of the week is filled with work and routine, but Saturday is my one day to really spend time in the kitchen. That's the way it was for my mom.
Early Saturday morning I would awake to the aroma of yeast dough proofing in the pantry, waiting to be formed into loaves of bread, rolls or coffee cake. And while waiting for the dough to rise there would be a pie in the making--apple, peach, maybe apricot, rhubarb, or (Daddy's favorite) gooseberry.
And then, in the afternoon while the bread was baking and the pies were cooling, mom would make pasta dough for egg noodles.
Mom made the most amazing noodles. They were rolled by hand--paper thin and light as air. And when she wasn't looking (or so I thought) I would grab a bit of the raw dough and pop it in my mouth. Flour-y, eggy, salty wonderfulness!! As the years passed Mom's arthritis made it impossible for her to wield the rolling pin that formed those thin layers of pasta dough. So Daddy bought a pasta machine for her.
I have Mom's pasta machine now, and whenever I use it I think of her. Today with the help of Mom's pasta buddy I made noodles. But these were no ordinary noodles. In my pantry is a large (I mean REALLY large) package of sliced almonds. I found them in our local warehouse store, and they were just too great of a bargain to resist. They have appeared in salads, cakes, and cookies.
And today they served as my inspiration for fettuccini. Almond fettuccini.
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon wheat gluten
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- Process almonds in food processor until ground. However, don't process to the point of having almond butter. There should be a bit of texture in your pasta. To the same bowl add the wheat gluten, salt, and flour. Pulse until mixed. Add the eggs and process until a stiff dough forms and cleans the sides of the bowl. This will take a few moments and a bit of patience. At first it will seem that the dough will not come together--it will be a bowl full of crumbs. But as the gluten in the flour breaks down your dough will come together. Trust me!
- With a pasta machine or by hand roll dough out to desired thinness. When rolling out the dough, your goal is a thickness somewhere between 1/8 and 1/16 inch thick. If rolling out by hand you will need to (a) cover the dough with a bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes, (b) use a large well-floured surface, and (c) lift and flip over your dough several times to insure that it doesn't stick to your work surface.
- If using a pasta machine, use the setting you prefer to cut your noodles to the desired width. If cutting by hand you have two options.
- (a) You may use a pizza wheel to slice the dough into strips of the desired width, or (b) liberally flour the top surface of the dough, roll it up jelly-roll fashion, and then slice into ribbons of the desired width (this option takes a bit more patience).
- Once all of the dough is cut into noodles, sprinkle again with flour and toss so that all pieces are coated with flour to prevent sticking.
- Bring a large kettle of water to boil. Place your noodles in a colander. Shake to remove excess flour, and then drop the noodles into the boiling water. Cook until done; the amount of time needed will depend upon the thickness of your dough. Very thin noodles might need only 2 minutes. Thicker noodles will require 5 minutes or more. Sample, taste, assess, and enjoy when ready!
- NOTE: wheat gluten is available in health-food stores and in many major grocery stores in the baking goods section. Gluten provides the "glue" that binds dough and makes it sticky and pliable. A bit of gluten is needed in this recipe because almonds (which do not contain gluten) are taking the place of some of the flour.