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Flavored, colorful pasta

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Pasta need not be pale yellow or cream colored. If you add puréed vegetables, chocolate, or other ingredients to your dough you can obtain a wide range of delightful hues. One thing to keep in mind is that the addition of the vegetable will influence the texture of the dough, which will be less elastic and consequently more difficult to roll out. Also, that you may not succeed in getting the sheet quite as thin as you would a sheet made from just flour and eggs.

Since the moisture content of the vegetables will vary from batch to batch, the quantity of flour is indicative. If the dough comes out overly moist and sticky, add more (you'll learn to judge how much you'll need with experience).

Green Pasta

This is the most classic color, and gives rise to pasta paglia e fieno (straw and hay) -- a combination of green and yellow tagliatelle, which is often served with cream sauces or salsa ai funghi (mushroom sauce). Green pasta is also an excellent alternative if you're making lasagna or ravioli. To make it you'll need:

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 8 ounces (220 g) raw spinach
  • 3 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

Wash the spinach well, shred it coarsely, and heat it in a pot with just the water that sticks to the leaves. Add a pinch of salt and stir it until it is completely wilted (5 minutes), then let it cool and squeeze it well to remove all the moisture you can. Blend the spinach and combine it with the other ingredients when you make the dough. As variations, you can also use wild greens, or nettles (use gloves when you pick and wash them).

Red Pasta

The proportions are similar to those for green pasta:

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 9 ounces (250 g) carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • A tablespoon of tomato paste
  • A pinch of salt

Peel the carrots, dice them, and simmer them until soft in lightly salted water. Drain them well, blend them, add the tomato paste to the mixture, and heating it pot, stirring constantly, until it has become quite firm. Combine the mixture with the other ingredients when you make the dough. If you want the pasta really red you can dispense with the carrots and simply cook down a tube of tomato paste, though in this case the resulting pasta will be rather acidic and will require something along the lines of a cream sauce to balance it.

Brown Pasta

This is a comparatively new addition to the pasta cornucopia, and is made with powdered baking (unsweetened) chocolate:

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 3 ounces (80 g) powdered baking chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients, and make pasta as you normally would. Contrary to what you might expect, it's not sweet because baking chocolate. It will work quite nicely with rich game-based pasta sauces.

Cheese Pasta

In terms of color this really isn't that different from regular, but it is a pleasant change of pace:

  • 1/2 pound (225 g, or 1 4/5 cups) flour
  • 1/2 pound (200 g) grated Parmigiano
  • 3 eggs

You shouldn't need salt, due to the salt content of the Parmigiano. Combine the ingredients and proceed as normal, seasoning the finished pasta with unsalted butter and sage or a light tomato sauce. One warning: because of the cheese, this pasta doesn't keep well.

Orange Pasta

Not carrot this time, but squash: Pick one with orange flesh (pumpkin will also work)

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 7/8 pound (400 g) squash
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

Peel and dice the squash, discarding seeds and strings, and boil the pieces in lightly salted water for about a half hour. Drain the pieces well, blend them, and should the paste be too liquid, heat it again, stirring briskly, until it has thickened. Use the paste to make the pasta.

Speckled Pasta

These are a surprising delight, and since the strengths of herbs vary from time to time, will never be quite the same from batch to batch.

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 1/4 cup or to taste finely minced fresh herbs, for example sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, or whatever else suits your fancy
  • 4 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

The exact volume of herbs will vary depending upon the herbs you chose and their potency. In any case, wash them well, pat them dry, strip the leaves from the stems, and mince the leaves. Combine the ingredients and make the pasta. The best sauce here will be unsalted butter, and a light dusting of grated Parmigiano.

Black Pasta

These are slightly unsettling the first time one sees them, but are perfect with creamy fish-based sauces.

  • 7/8 pound (400 g, or 3 1/3 cups) flour
  • 4 teaspoons squid ink (fresh will be best, from your fishmonger, but it is also available, in packets, in well-stocked delicatessens)
  • 4 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

Combine the ingredients and make the pasta as usual.

The next page is dedicated to more colored pasta.

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