Thursday, March 3, 2011

Valentines Day 2011 | Why I love pasta and my pasta maker

This past valentines days, I had a terrible idea. Probably the worst food related idea I’ve ever had. To give myself a little credit, I can honestly say that some of the fault lies with ken. Not only did he supply the kernel of inspiration on which I built this idea, but he was also complicit in allowing it to be brought to fruition. Our plan for that night was to make a pasta, because, well, because we like pasta. But it wasn’t going to be just any pasta, it would be the ultimate valentines day pasta. The idea was to make chocolate ravioli with a pretty pink beet and ricotta filling. With the benefit of hindsight I now see how bad this combination sounds, but at the time I was seduced by the idea of chocolate and picture perfect pink valentines day noodles.

These ravioli were indescribably bad. When I came up with the idea to make these, I convinced myself that the sugar in the beets would be enough to compensate for the otherwise bitter chocolate in the pasta. I was horribly mistaken. The pasta was so bitter that it overwhelmed all sweetness from the beets (and richness from the ricotta), leaving only the earthy dirty beet taste, a taste which had caused me to despise beets for the first 22 years of my life. There was absolutely nothing appealing about this dish.

So why am I writing about my horrible failure of a pasta? Well, because the experience made me realize just how amazing pasta really is. Consider this: there are a huge variety of noodles from around the world, and all are made using the same basic ingredients: flour, water, and the optional egg. Of course there are slight differences between them, but the foundation of each is the same. And if you are as lucky as I am to live with someone who can take those basic ingredients, and turn them into a pasta without the need of a recipe, then any failed pasta dish can be salvaged. Using his amazing pasta making skills ken managed to do just that by adding flour and eggs to the leftover filling, and making a delicious beet ricotta gnocchi.

Tossed with butter, grated cheese and a little lemon zest, this dish made a tasty (if not the prettiest) accompaniment to the rest of our valentine’s night meal of scallops, leeks and romanesco. The meal was a success and the experience, a perfect valentines day reminder of why I love pasta and my pasta making boyfriend.

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