Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kamut or Pasta Carbonara...Yum...

Kamut is an ancient grain, purportedly from Egypt several thousand years ago.  Never hybridized, at least for the last few thousand years.

Actually, it is very similar to durum semolina, is a lovely golden colored grain with a large kernel.  It mills beautifully, and while it isn't great for bread baking, it makes AMAZING pasta.

Isn't it wonderful to have so much variety in our diet?  I love the fact that the hard white wheat I use has completely different minerals and nutrients from the Spelt and Kamut.  I try to get a variety into the kids on a regular basis.  Each grain with a distinctly special purpose.

But I haven't made pasta in ages.  You know, I try to moderate my intake of carbs so I can stay in the same size clothing.  But these kids of mine are long distance runners and I hesitate to give them white junky pasta from the supermarket, just to bump up their carbs.  Especially since it is devoid of  nutrients. 

A sweet customer of mine asked if I would ever consider making pasta as she is trying to feed her family locally produced foods.  Her request was inspiring, so I pulled out the big bag of organic Kamut, produced by farmers in Montana, milled it in my Meadows Mills stone burr grinder, cracked the dozen eggs, harvested by my dairy farmer, Sally over at Z-bar ranch, threw in a pinch of salt, a glug of olive oil, and began to knead. Thinking loving thoughts of my amazing running kids.

The pasty mixture transformed into golden, bouncy playdough.  I let the dough rest for a half hour, portioned out part for my customers and part for my kids and grabbed a rolling pin.  Instead of using the pasta machine, I decided to do a pasta rustica, and cut out fettucine with the pizza cutter.  I put the delicate strips of pasta on a rack to dry.  Got creative and made a bunch of farfalle (bowties) to store in the freezer.  Then called a couple of girl friends.

You see, these days, the kids are so busy with school activities, they have to grab a bite to eat then run to practice.  I couldn't imagine going to all the trouble of making fresh pasta without having someone to share it with me.  Seated.  At the table.  We made a salad, put on water to boil, cut up a couple of slices of bacon in a dice.  Fried it up with a sliced red pepper and several cloves of sliced garlic.  I drained the bacon, pepper, garlic mixture and placed it in a large pasta bowl.  In a separate bowl, I beat together a bit of cream, three eggs, some grated parmesan.  Yeah, yeah, I know it is rich, but the kids requested and you have to keep in mind we RARELY eat pasta.  Maybe once in three months.  And it is freshly milled WHOLE grain pasta.  And not more than 1/4 slice of bacon per person. 

Wait a minute.  Why am I getting so defensive? 


I dumped a generous handfull of the pasta into the boiling, well-salted water.  When it was tender, and rising to the top of the pan, I scooped it out into the pasta bowl with the bacon goodstuff, added the beaten egg mixture and asked J. to toss it with a fork.  The heat of the boiling pasta gently cooked the eggy mixture, melted the cheese, and basically coated each strand with savory deliciousness. 

I cracked plenty of black pepper on the top of the carbonara, and would have added a sprinkle of nutmeg, if I could have found any.  N. brought some red wine, which we shared with our fresh bread, delicious salad, thanks to J. and that amazing pasta. 

Kids gobbled and ran off.  We ladies sat down, buttered our freshly milled, hard white wheat Italian Peasant bread, ate our salad with Tree's sweet little cherry tomatoes and savored every last carb.  I think it is pretty awesome that our whole grain Kamut pasta tastes so much better than store bought whole wheat cardboard.  I mean pasta. 

After the ladies left and the table was cleared, I gathered the dogs for a two mile walk around the loop.  Probably needed a 12 mile hike, but the two felt pretty nice as I watched the crescent moon sink into the west and listened to the chirruping insects in the tall grass in the draw. 

PS  I don't imagine I will be making pasta every week, but I aspire to monthly, to feed these hungry kids.  And wouldn't aspire to more than once a year, if I were not a full-time miller/baker.  Am so thankful for a business that allows me to not only make good stuff for other people, but also helps feed my kids.  I hope you won't feel any guilt if you are a mom and buying storebought dried pasta. PLEASE don't feel guilt!  I do this because it is my business!  But if you have a friend with a mill, or have a mill yourself, or know a miller/baker, I do wish you would try some real pasta sometime.  And if you have a bit of extra cash, search out a local baker, and ask them if they would be willing to make you some dough.  It isn't hard at all.  I used a variation on the Frugal Gourmet's fresh pasta recipe.  You could do your part for the local economy and perhaps your baker and his/her friends would be inspired.

12 eggs (from a farm for the dark orange yolks and extra omega 3 fatty acid
4glugs olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 c-3/4 c water
freshly milled kamut, add flour to make a thick dough that will handle kneading.  If it is too dry, add a bit more water.  If too wet, add more flour.  if you can't find kamut, use durum semolina.  Regular all purpose flour is not going to give you the consistency you wish for.  But would work fine for egg noodles. 

This recipe made about 5 lbs dough.  You might want to cut it down to one fourth.  I rolled the dough in small batches on a big piece of freezer paper.  The thinner the better.  You really need plenty of flour.  If you don't continue to add flour to each side of the dough, it will become a sticky mess.  A pasta machine, the metal italian ones, work best for making a thin spaghetti.  I have one, thanks to Judith and Ned, and LOVE it, but it is a bit of production to use it.  You might procrastinate less if you just roll your dough out and cut it with the pizze roller.  Don't forget to try lasagna sometime.  Or homemade ravioli.  I was fantasizing about butternut squash and fresh sage leaves...


Stephen said...

Sadly, my present living arrangements don't really lend themselves to this sort of cooking. But if they did, what you describe would seriously be next thing on the culinary "to do" list.

gingerhillery@mac.com said...

Hi Stephen! It does help to have plenty of space to roll out dough! You will have to find a friend w a big kitchen table to host a pasta making gathering!