After a disastrous attempt to create an Eastern European-inspired pasta dish on a czarist purple theme (the opal basil was more grey than purple and the purple string beans turned green the moment they hit the hot water for blanching) I discovered that Hungary actually has a traditional pasta dish. Made with egg noodles, poppyseeds, and crumbled sweet cheese, it's reminiscent of kugel; I decided to keep the flavour profile savoury to let the nutty crunch of the poppyseeds really shine.
I served this pasta with just a little butter melted with some pasta cooking water as a side dish alongside grilled flank steak and a green vegetable. I think it'd also be nice as a main: I’m picturing perhaps a little sour cream and extra poppyseeds stirred into the simple butter sauce and a poached or fried egg crowning the heap.
Some technical notes: I used durum flour (which is just semolina flour, finely ground), traditional in pasta-making and fairly available, but Jamie Oliver, whose pasta recipe and method I used as a loose guide, actually recommends bread flour. I always forget that pasta is far less fussy to make than I think it’s going to be, particularly with a stand mixer and a pasta machine doing all the hard work. My one caveat: Don’t feel the need to roll your pasta to the thinnest setting on the machine. You want your strand pasta to have body, so you may only need to roll it down three or four settings from the initial, thickest one. —Nostrovia_ca
- Makes 6 side-dish portions
durum wheat flour, plus additional for dusting
knob of butter, for serving
- Using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, blend flour, eggs, and poppyseeds for about 3 minutes on medium speed until a firm dough forms. Knead dough by hand on a lightly dusted surface for an additional minute or so until it becomes smooth and elastic (dust with additional pinches of flour if dough sticks at all while you are kneading). Wrap the dough in plastic film and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour. (You could also mix this dough entirely by hand: Make a well in the centre of the flour and fill it with the eggs. Mix the eggs into the flour gradually with a fork and then knead by hand once a dough forms. The kneading process it will take longer, but proceed by feel and keep going until the dough is the proper consistency.)
- Remove dough from fridge and divide it into 4 balls. Work with 1 ball at a time, covering the remaining ones so that the dough does not dry out. Flatten the ball with your hand and run it through the thickest setting on a pasta machine. Fold each edge in towards the middle and run through the thickest setting again. Repeat until you have a fairly uniform rectangle the width of the pasta machine. Dust both sides of the sheet with flour and run through the next setting down. Repeat until desired thickness is reached. (You can do all this with a rolling pin, but frankly, if I didn’t have a pasta machine I don’t know that I could be bothered to do all that rolling by hand.)
- Dust your now–long and thin rectangles of pasta with a little more flour and run them through the pasta machine’s cutters, or cut them by hand into desired widths (my pappardelle strands were about 1-1/2 inches wide, cut by hand). Cook the pasta right away in plenty of boiling salted water, or hang to dry for 1 hour before winding strands into small, loose nests to dry completely for an additional 4 hours before storing in an airtight container.
- When pasta is tender and floats to the surface of the boiling water (fresh pasta takes a fraction of the time dry pasta does to cook), drain it and return it to the pot with a splash of cooking water and the butter. Swirl the pasta in the butter sauce until all the strands are coated. Serve immediately.