|When I saw that Jaden's Steamy Kitchen was having a drawing for saffron, I knew I had to get my name in. I had one teeny-tiny pinch of saffron left, and the chance to win a full ounce of pure gold is verrrrry attractive.|
The problem: what to make? Multiple versions of saffron rice, paella, bouillabaise, risotto, etc. had already been offered up, along with some more oddball entries – saffron tea, saffron cookies ... Hmmm. What about saffron dumplings? I found a couple of recipes for those, and they look good, but then I ran across a new word: Malloreddus.
What the heck is that? Why, it's a traditional Sardinian pasta that looks a lot like gnocchetti (pasta shaped like gnocchi), but with the addition of saffron.
There aren't a lot of recipes for it out there. Most of the ones I found involved prepping the sauce or meat (wild boar is popular), then opening a bag of commercially prepared, dried malloreddus and boiling it.
I did find two recipes for the pasta itself, though. One is Mario Batali's, and one is from Grand Rapids Community College's hospitality program.
You'd think I would want to go with Mario's first, but get this: GRCC has cooking videos for sale, and the clip of the malloreddus video has exactly the bit of info I most needed: how to shape the pasta. And the recipe is about half the size of Mario's so I decided that would get the test-run.
I have to confess: I've never made pasta from scratch before. I'm quaking in my clogs a little. But here we go!
The ingredients are simple: 14 oz. semolina flour, 7 oz. warm water, 1/4 tsp saffron, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbs olive oil.
Then you're ready to roll! Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal portions and roll out each piece into a quarter-inch snake.
Use your poodle ruler to make sure you've got the sizes even. Don't have poodle ruler? I didn't either, until today. It was a gift from Moonbeam's Mama. Thanks, Beeb!
Then cut each roll into quarter-inch pieces. It doesn't really matter if you make the pieces larger than that, if you want larger pasta; the important thing is that all the pieces are the same size, so they will all cook through in the same amount of time.
Now comes the fun part:
You can roll the pasta off with your thumb, as shown, or turn the paddle and use four fingers, which proved more efficient, since I could do it in one smooth roll. Once you get a rhythm going, you can roll pretty fast.
Mario suggests using a fork to get the ridges. This will work in a pinch, especially if you have a wide, many-tined fork. This fork didn't work so well, but you do get ridges. Just a different look.
This was just a test batch, and I think I made them a little too thick. Have to work on my pressing and rolling technique. And it is clear that they will work best in a sauce, being fairly substantial and able to hold lots of saucy goodness in their ridges and crannies. They are indeed quite tasty!
The saffron flavor was very light. I was looking at Hanne's recipe for Swedish saffron bread that was submitted for the contest and noted that you want to soak that saffron for 12(!) hours. I think I would try that, maybe pulverizing the saffron first and then not filtering the water, so you get more saffron punch – plus pretty speckles – that isn't completely eclipsed by the sauce's flavor.
I got the fixings to make a bolognese sauce, which I'll do tomorrow. We'll see how well the pasta holds up after drying overnight.
Can't make any more malloreddus until I get more saffron, so cross your fingers that I win Jaden's contest!