I was feeling a bit low earlier today and I thought, what would my Grandma say. And she’s been at St. Peter’s for almost 20 years now and even if she did say something that I could use in this specific situation, I don’t remember it anymore. But one thing did came across my mind: a little rhyme she would recite every time when making or serving noodles: Jela Maca rezanaca. Which, in Croatian, means Maca ate noodles. Maca (pronounced matza) is reffered to a kitty as a cat and also shortened for Marija, my name. So, Kitty the me ate noodles.
So I took a long sigh and went off to make some noodles.
Oh, my Grandma Julia was a master of noodles. She would make noodles of any kind. Soup noodles, as thin as hair. Thicker, wider noodles to serve with stews or just plain, with a sprinkle of sugar or if in richer times, with grained poppy seeds or walnuts. And all of that without any pasta machine, only dough roller, sharp knife and lots of strength and experience.
Luckily, Grandma’s noodle recipes are well remembered and often used by my Mom and my Aunt so whenever I felt adventurous enough to make them, I had reliable source and advice. Also, I have a good pasta machine which makes it a lot easier for me. Solid, heavy as a stone, which is good in any other case but not when the handle falls down right to your bare toes and makes a pretty blue and purple damage.
So with that in mind I thought of different recipes I might use today. I chose basic noodle recipe that can be used for both for wider noodles like this and lasagna sheets. The recipe goes like this:
Grandma’s basic noodle recipe (not vegan one! For vegan, scroll down a bit, please)
Version on my Croatian blog is here.
400 g bread flour (3 cups+2 tbsp)
water enough to fill 4 halves of egg shells
But, as a vegan pasta soul, I thought of making it the vegan way. Since the Chia seeds have proven their eggy virtues, I simply substituted each egg with 1 tbsp of Chia seeds and 3 tbsps of water.
To make the dough firmer, I added some semolina to the dough but that made the dough more “thirstier” so I had to add a bit more water.
The result was great: thin, firm noodles that didn’t fall apart or stick, even after some time. Chia seeds gave them funny, nutty and specky (of course, that’s not a word, but please bear with me) sensation when you eat – it crunches nicely and makes you smile – the Chia seed specks in noodles are nice to see, tasty to eat, great enough to share with others.
So do you feel adventurous enough to try?
As you see, I served my pasta with Kimchy, as I often do. Also, there is a little parsley scrap growing nice leaves from a little bowl of water. I know, basil leaves would look great too, but that fellow hates me. Yes. As soon as I get a pot of live basil plant from the store, it commits suicide and wilts. So… I gave up and used what I had on hand. You should too!
Another thing about flours. I don’t know about flours you have at hand where you live and especially about the mill coarseness level of the flour. I’m not sure I used the right words again, but I think you’ll know what I mean: some white wheat flours are milled finely or coarsely. The most coarse would be semolina and the finest would be starch. From what I’ve learned from most of the English speaking blogs and recipes, cake flour would be finer milled and bread coarser and I think it’s similar or same to what many people call purpose flour. I also read somewhere about bread flour reffered to as strong flour. Well, that “strong”, bread flour I used today and I also use it every time when making yeast dough.
If you don’t have that kind of flour, just use any kind you have, as long as it’s white wheat flour. I didn’t try this with wholemeal of rye flour so I don’t know what would be the result because those flours require different amounts of water and possible need to mix with plain wheat flour.
Because, I used to do everything with any flour I had on hand (all purpose or strong). And it turned out well. The only difference you have to pay attention to is ammount of liquid that will be needed.
So here is the recipe and some final pointers:
Vegan Chia homemade pasta
300 g (2 1/3 cups) bread flour + some for dusting
100 g semolina
2 tbsp Chia seeds
3/4 tsp salt
200 ml/1/2 cups+4 or 5 tbsp water
Put everything in the food processor (or simply in a bowl) in the order that is written. Don’t pour all the water at once, you might not need all. Pulse till everything comes together, take it out and knead to get a nice, firm but elastic dough that is not sticky. If it’s too wet, noodles will stick together when cooked, even after you coat them in oil. Divide in 10 or more pieces, cover the ones you don’t use so the dough doesn’t dry out. Sprinkle some flour on your surface and dough, roll (or flatten with your hands) and run through the pasta machine from thicker to thinner size. Sheets should be wide as you find it comfortable and long as long you want your pasta to be. As for thickness: the best thickness is about 2 – 3 milimetres. If you run your sheet of dough through the machine and hear the Chia seeds cracking, that’s too thin and noodles will stick when cooked. Sprinkle the sheets with flour often – that will help against sticking also. Watch that the surface where you are laying the sheets or finnished pasta is floured too. Finally, run the sheets through cutting cylinders in your machine and make a pasta. Separate noodles if they stick together.
If you don’t have pasta machine, just roll the dough as thin as you can and then cut the pasta out with sharp knife. Watch that you dust the dough all the time so it doesn’t stick and get on your nerves. And stick again when cooked.
In the meantime, bring a big pot of water to boil. Add 1 tbsp of salt and a splash of vineggar. You can also add a bay leaf or two for special aroma, but if you’re not sure you like bay leaf aroma, rather don’t because it may feel strong for someone who doesn’t like it.
Lift the pasta with the knife so the excess flour falls off and drop it into the water. Stirr immediately so the noodles separate and don’t stick to the bottom. After one quick minute, when water starts boiling again and foams a bit, noodles should be al dente. Give them one brief minute and out they go to the strainer, or they’ll overcook and stick. Noodles shouldn’t be translucent in any case! On the contrary, they a rather white. Also, they won’t puff and get thicker as egg pasta. Splash the noodles with some oil and gently lift with two forks from the bottoms up so it all gets covered. Do it in the strainer, immediately, add some salt if you want and then transfer to another bowl. Serve with whatever you feel like goes with this specky pasta and enjoy!