Recently, I have been reading the book “Bread Matters” by Andrew Whitley. In it, he discusses the variability that has occurred over the decades of bread baking, namely the distancing of the methods away from using wholesome natural ingredients, grown in closer harmony to the earth. The roots of bread itself are in a quality wheat, grown with the greatest respect for nature and our connection to it, not in what it has become commercially: a chemically-laden behemoth that only resembles real bread in the most coarse of observations.
When looking at the real ingredients involved, I’m lucky enough to have a local grain farmer passionate about organic, sustainable farming practices that focus on older varieties of wheat, free of the modern mutations that have also contributed to a less-healthful modern loaf. John Schneider at Gold Forest Grains is a local treasure responsible for growing Park and Red Fife varieties of wheat as well as a myriad of other quality grains (buckwheat, spelt, barley, flax, oats)
While I’m still working on my bread baking skills, I do many things with the older wheat varieties, Park and Red Fife. Most recently, I used Red Fife to make a traditional Italian egg pasta.
Red Fife Pasta
3-1/3 cups Gold Forest Grains Red Fife flour
1 tsp salt
5 Sunshine Organic large eggs
2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of the Red Fife flour and salt. Make a depression in the centre of the mixture. Add the eggs and oil. Beat the eggs and oil together, then gradually start to work in the flour around it. Depending on the season, the wheat flour can be more or less moist, so you may need to add a few tablespoons of water as you stir to bring together the dough. Turn the dough out on to the counter with a few tablespoons of flour and knead until it is smooth and no longer sticky. A tablespoon of flour here and there during the kneading process may be needed as the moisture is distributed throughout the dough. The overall kneading should take about 10-15 minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.
Roll out using a pasta machine. I have an old hand-crank version that bolts to the table. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll out by starting at Setting 1. Fold the pasta sheet in half and put it through again at Setting 1. Continue on from Setting 2 to 5. I find at Setting 5 you get a good thickness for both tagliatelle and for pasta sheets for lasagna or ravioli. For hand cut tagliatelle, dust a fully rolled pasta sheet with flour, fold in half, then in half again and cut in rough 1cm(1/2″) ribbons. Toss again with a bit of flour and hang on a plastic hanger to dry or cook immediately.
Hand-Cut Tagliatelle with Red Cabbage, Apple, Feta and Roasted Pepper-Chilli Sausage
1 recipe Red Fife Pasta, cut into tagliatelle
1 tsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1 Doef’s Greenhouses fresh red chilli, finely chopped
3 cups Riverbend Gardens red cabbage, sliced
1 medium apple, cored, sliced into 4cm(2″) by 2cm(1″) pieces
1 bunch (about 6-8) Peas On Earth green onions, chopped
100g(1/4lb) Fairwind Farms goat feta, crumbled
3 Tbsp Morinville Greenhouses fresh mint leaves
100g(1/4lb) Roasted Sweet Pepper and Chilli Pork Sausage
2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed flax oil
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and fresh chilli over medium high heat until starting to soften. Add the red cabbage and sauté, tossing with the chilli-scented oil for about 7-9 minutes until starting to soften. Add the apple and green onions and sauté for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan.
Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted, boiling water for 2 minutes or until just cooked.
Brown the sausage in a teaspoon of oil. Toss with the cooked tagliatelle and cabbage-apple mixture. Finish with the feta, fresh mint leaves, flax oil and toss together. Serves 4.