If someone tells you that the best things in life are easy, don't be so quick to believe them. Take this Mother-in-Law's Tongue Pasta, for example. I set out to make them in my home for the International Incident Party last Sunday, thinking that producing something this beautiful couldn't be that hard. I've made flavored pasta and ravioli before, so how much different could this be?
Haha, I've changed my mind since - the process of producing these stripey, colorful ribbons ranks right up there with finding a mathematical equation that could be used to solve for the nth prime.... yep, it was it was that difficult. I managed to make 5 (yes, five) stripey noodles, and for that, I was grateful and over the moon!
My ingredients to produce the colorful stripes were spinach (green), carrot (orange), black sesame (black/grey), cocoa powder (brown), turmeric powder (yellow) and blueberry jam (blue). The jam was pure desperation, btw, but I had a good preserve, bursting with blueberries!
The hardest part was lining up the linguine strips so that they slightly overlapped alongside each other and then getting them to seal properly. Seal, dammit. I suppose if I were to make these everyday for the next couple of years, I would probably get the technique down to pat. It's a stunning pasta yes, but who has the time?
Sigh.... so perfect.
I didn't want to mask the vibrant stripes with a tomato or cream sauce, so I simply boiled the pasta al dente and then sauteed it in garlic butter alongside shredded red cabbage and coriander leaves. Tastewise, it's much like any other pasta. I couldn't really taste the individual and collective (thank God) flavorings. As I dangled each tantalising noodle with a fork before savoring it, I had to pause and take stock of it one last time because I'm not sure when I'll be making this next!
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Pasta (Lingua di Suocera)
Basic Pasta Dough:
2 cups plain flour
½ small carrot, diced, boiled and chopped finely
2 tablespoons spinach, blanched, squeeze out water and chopped finely
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon blueberry jam
1 tablespoon black sesame powder
1. Place the flour in a food processor. Add eggs and process for 10 seconds until the flour is moist and crumbly. Adjust by adding some more flour to the dough if it is extra sticky and process further. Each time you stop the machine, pinch the dough between your fingers, it should feel firmer each time. After about 30 seconds of processing, the dough should come together and form a loose ball on top of the blade, and feel moist but not sticky when pinched.
2. Take the dough out, and divide into 7 equal portions. Leave one plain, to each of the other knead in the individual flavorings. Sprinkle some flour on a hard wood surface and start to knead the dough pieces separately. With the heel of one hand, push the ball of dough away from you. Fold it back toward you and rotate the dough a quarter turn. Repeat this process until the dough feels damp without being sticky, then stop kneading (about 1-2 minutes). Shape each dough into a ball and cover with a large overturned bowl, let rest for 30 minutes.
3. Run each piece of dough through a pasta machine as per the instructions, until it is thin enough to cut into linguine strips (I went up to No. 4).
4. Pass the sheet of dough in the linguine cutter, and place separately on a flat surface. You’d need a fairly large, clean table or countertop for this.
5. Make two noodle strips at a time: Dust the counter with flour, take about 14 individual linguine strips and line them lengthwise alongside each other, making sure they overlap slightly along their lengths. This ensures that the strips will seal together as you roll it flatter.
6. Dust more flour over the strips and carefully use a roller to flatten the pasta, pressing firmly down to seal the strips. Do not roll the noodle too thin or they will come apart.
7. Using a ravioli cutter, cut pasta into two 1½-inch wide x 12-inch long strips of Lingua di Suocera. Dry on a rack in an oven at 25C for at least 4 hours or overnight outside the oven. Leftover linguine can be cooked immediately, another way to make a colorful pasta dish.
8. To cook, boil water with some olive oil and cook the pasta for about 10 minutes until soft but still chewy. Serve immediately with a sauce.