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Quinoa Pasta with Amatriciana Sauce

April 7, 2010

If you’ve never eaten, or heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), don’t be too hard on yourself. It is an ancient grain that has gained popularity in recent years outside the “health food” world. For being such a tiny grain it has a whole lot going for it. The taste is mild, it cooks quickly but best of all it is high in protein unlike most other grains. I’d forgotten about it until a year or so ago. It was a mainstay during my post-college days when Whole Foods was just a one shop operation in Austin and Boulder claimed the original health food store in their beloved Alfalfa’s Market well before the Wild Oats – Whole Foods FTC battle.

A friend just wrote me saying “Quinoa is the new black” and some chef friends of her’s act as if they discovered it. They’d better do their research before stealing the glory from the Incas.

Taken straight from Wikipedia I found this interesting entry. “Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians, vegans and athletes. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.” 

I’ve used it as a rice substitute and have cooked it with couscous and barley for a nice grain trio but recently found it in flour form so substituted some of the flour in my usual pasta dough recipe to see how it would work out.  The amatriciana sauce cooked while I rolled then cooked the pasta. The whole thing, start to finish took less than an hour so even on a work night this was doable and delicious.

Quinoa fettucine with Amatriciana Sauce

For the pasta you will need:

1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4  cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup semolina

1 egg

1/4 – 1/2 cup warm water

(This made 4 good sized servings and I froze 2 for another day. We ate all the sauce so if you are serving 4 people, double up on the sauce.)

I took the easy way out and used my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer and its amazing dough hook to make this simple dough. Having always kneaded dough by hand, I have to say, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the old fashioned way. You simply put all the ingredients in the bowl and turn the speed to 2 and let it go. I did stop it to scrape down the sides a few times and add a little water but other than that I just let it do it’s thing for about 5 minutes then took the dough out, rolled it in flour, cut it into 4 pieces and made sure they were well floured before their first pass through the pasta rollers. I start out with a # 1 setting, rolling each piece then flouring it and setting aside. Then set the rollers to #3 and roll again. Attach the fettucine rollers and pass one last time cutting the dough into long, thin strands. Lay on a floured/semolina dusted board to dry slightly before cooking in rapidly boiling, salted water for a minute or two. The noodles will rise to the top as they are done. Most importantly, do not over cook. Drain well, return to pot and toss gently with sauce. Plate and serve with grated Parmigiano.

For the sauce you will need:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 Tbsp. smoked pancetta, chopped

1  14 oz. can tomatoes, San Marzano are preferable

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

hot pepper flakes if you like things spicy

1 Tbsp. butter

Parmigiano Reggiano for grating

Saute onions and pancetta in olive oil. Grind tomatoes with a  passe-vite or food mill using the largest disk, directly into pot, or cut into small pieces. Add spices and cook on low to medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before mixing with pasta, add a pat of butter. Top will grated Parmigiano.

Using a stand mixer makes kneading the dough, until elastic, very simple

Divide dough, roll in flour and form balls. These strips have been

rolled once on the #1 setting.

Notice the thinner dough as it passes through the #3 rollers

Cut using fettucine attachment 

Cook pasta in plenty of rapidly boiling, salted water. Drain well

before returning to pot and mixing with sauce.

Adding a pat of butter just before serving does something magical

to the sauce.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 3:06 pm

    What a beautiful dish!!! I’m so, so jealous that you can make your own pasta – seriously girl, come over and cook for me anytime! 🙂

    Hope you had a great Spring Break!

    • April 7, 2010 4:19 pm

      YOU can too.. If you can run a marathon I know, for sure, that you can make pasta 🙂

    • April 12, 2010 3:50 pm

      Oops, just stumbled back on this post and realized I don’t know why I wrote that about spring break haha – I think I had my own spring break on my mind at the time. Anyway, the pasta still looks spectacular! 🙂

  2. Liza Barry permalink
    April 8, 2010 1:11 pm

    Any suggestions for Quinoa recipes in it’s grain form? I’m hearing lots about it lately. It’s the grain of choice on Biggest Loser.

    • April 13, 2010 12:16 pm

      Quinoa cooks quickly and has about the same texture as couscous so I substitute it for rice or other smaller grains and use it as a side dish or in broth as a light meal. I will be doing a Mexican bake with roasted poblano peppers soon and I’d originally made it with whole wheat couscous but am going to try it with quinoa, there’s no reason it wouldn’t be delicious. Try toasting it and cooking in broth then stirring in a litte grated cheese for a healthy protein packed mac-cheese. Or stuff green peppers with it mixed up with some tomatos and spices and bake, yum… see what happens when you get me started!
      Thanks for the great question.

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