Last year, when I pledged to follow October Unprocessed and go for a whole month without eating any processed food, I thought, “Oh, that will be easy—that’s how I eat.” I patted myself on the back for being such a wholesome vegetarian, and in no time forgot about my online unprocessed promise.
This year I’m looking more critically at what goes into my mouth—I’m committed to being a better label reader, and to keep to the pledge all month. Thanks Andrew for the kitchen test guideline: “Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.”
So what the heck is the tricalcium phosphate in organic rice milk? Could I make lecithin or carrageenan at home? They’re in our almond milk. I’m bummed—last night I scrutinized my go-to better than vegetable broth base—how did I miss the added sugar and maltodextrin? You mean I can’t add xanthan gum to improve the texture in my gluten-free almond chocolate chip cookies? Unprocessed food means paying attention to labels.
Opting out of unprocessed food is inherently political–a vote with our forks. We’re sending a message to food producers that we don’t want our food altered, enhanced or preserved with mystery ingredients.
For me, not eating processed food is all about home cooking. When we prepare whole foods and known ingredients at home, we easily avoid the added sugar, salt, fats and what else so prevalent in supermarket and much restaurant food.
My goal with this recipe is to get you into the kitchen and cook. At the very least, whip up this awesome sauce, nothing more than goat cheese and parsley. This sauce is a quick fancy dress for purchased (unprocessed) pasta that will please even the pickiest eater. Sprinkle on a few toasted hazelnuts for crunch, and green onion and parsley for color–that’s easy unprocessed cooking.
Feeling more ambitious? Make your own fettuccine noodles to toss with the goat cheese sauce. Homemade pasta is super easy using a food processor and a hand-crank pasta machine [or even easier with the KitchenAid pasta roller attachments] and this recipe includes detailed instructions using those time-saving tools. Flavor the pasta dough with parsley and green onion and we’re talking delicious simplicity.
It costs ten minutes to make the dough for tender whole grain pasta that will spoil you forever, and no more than 30 minutes to crank out the noodles. Mixing the sauce takes less time than it takes to boil the water! Fresh, thinly rolled pasta cooks in one minute, so make sure everyone is gathered at the table before your homemade pasta goes in the pot.
Here’s wishing you success in your eating unprocessed pledge. Enjoy the bonus of cooking and sharing your meal with family or friends—it’s food for the soul.
Whole Wheat Parsley Fettuccine with Goat Cheese Sauce
My goal with this recipe is to get you into the kitchen and cook. At the very least, whip up this awesome sauce, nothing more than goat cheese and parsley. This sauce is a quick fancy dress for purchased (unprocessed) pasta that will please even the pickiest eater.
- ¼ cup parsley leaves
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped green onion
- 2 to 2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour plus extra for rolling and cutting
- 1 teaspoon real salt
- 3 eggs
- 6 ounces soft goat cheese
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup minced green onion
- 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts
Make the pasta:
- Mince the parsley and green onion in a food processor by turning the machine off and on about 10 times.
- Add 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the eggs, and process until the dough forms a ball. The dough should not be wet—you don’t want it to stick to the rollers. If needed, add the remaining flour, about a tablespoon at a time, and process the dough until it comes together. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it briefly until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round disk. Wrap in plastic and let rest, 30 minutes to an hour. (see notes)
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Keep the unworked portions covered.
- With a pasta machine, roll out the dough. (see note)
Rolling the pasta:
- Set the rollers at the widest setting. Lightly dust flour on one piece of the dough and pass it through the rollers. Fold it into thirds, and put it through the rollers a second time. Repeat the folding and rolling a few more times until you have a smooth rectangle of dough. To prevent the dough from sticking to the machine, dust it lightly with flour as you roll it out—but don’t use more flour than necessary.
- Keep the rollers at the widest setting, and repeat with the remaining portions of dough. (You can stack the rolled pieces on top of each other; just make sure they are dusted with enough flour to keep them from sticking together.)
- From this point on, crank the dough through the rollers without folding. Set the rollers one setting closer and roll all the pieces, lightly dusting with flour as needed.
- Repeat: roll all eight portions at the next thinner setting. Again, you can stack the rolled pieces on top of each other, with enough flour to keep them from sticking together.
- Continue resetting the rollers closer together and rolling the stretched dough. If the lengths of dough grow too long to manage, cut them in half before moving down to a thinner setting.
- Roll until the dough is very thin, usually the smallest setting. My machine has seven settings and my last roll is the thinnest setting. You want to be able to barely see the print of a magazine through the thin dough.
- Cut the pasta with your choice of cutting attachment. When the cut strands come out the other end, catch them with your arm and/or a pasta rack stick. Let the pasta dry on the rack. Alternatively dry the pasta in loose nests on a tray, with ample flour to prevent sticking.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, in a skillet over medium flame, mix the water and goat cheese, stirring with a fork until smooth. Keep warm.
- When your guests are seated and waiting, drop the pasta into the boiling water. Cook it 30 seconds to a minute, or until it is firm to the bite (al dente.)
- Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the goat cheese. Add the chopped parsley and tossing together gently. Garnish with green onions and chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately.
You can prepare the pasta dough, refrigerate overnight and roll it the next day. You can also make the pasta ahead and freeze it soon after cutting, in a deep enough pan to protect the pasta from being broken or crushed. Add frozen pasta to the boiling salted water as with fresh pasta—it might take another 30 seconds or so to reach al dente.
These instructions are for a pasta machine, which guarantees very tender silken pasta. If you don’t have access to a pasta machine and are really motivated, you can hand roll out the dough, but it’s tricky and takes practice to get it evenly thin without the machine.
About the Author
After years as pastry chef at Deer Valley Resort in Park City Utah, Letty Flatt followed her heart to create Letty’s Kitchen, a vegetarian blog where she shares seasonally inspired recipes, including desserts with a “healthier” twist. Her recipes are often vegan, and sometimes gluten-free. She is addicted to Instagram and is frequently caught posting recipe ideas on Pinterest.