More flavor. How can we get more flavor into our pasta? Roasting pasta in the oven is one way to deepen its flavor and broaden its taste spectrum. The flours become nuttier, there are caramel like notes. We have read about toasting pasta when cooking it like risotto and it's been years since we thought to pre-roast it for cooking. Until we started hydrating our pasta for expedited cooking. After more research into pasta cooking and reading Harold McGee's piece on little water cooking several times, it dawned on us. Some of the detractors in the piece noted a lack of flavor in the pasta. Those doubts followed by McGee's comments on the risotto style pasta cookery had us reaching for the pasta and turning on the oven. If we roasted the noodles and then hydrated we should have a more intense pasta flavor. Our tests proved correct. We roasted the noodles for twenty minutes in a 350 degree F oven and then hydrated them in cold water for an hour and a half. We brought a small pot of water to a boil, cooked for a minute and tossed with butter, salt and black pepper. The roasted noodles were amazing. Linguine with clam sauce and simple fresh tomato sauce will now have a deeper flavor and aroma, which we did not know was possible.
Since I cannot leave well enough alone I took some of the roasted and hydrated noodles and smoked them with a smoking gun. The quick and direct smoking of the noodles allowed us to be eating smoked and roasted pasta almost instantly. To accent the dish we added a few garlic chives and some Ossau Iraty cheese. The delicate smoke on top of the roasted flavor was mind blowing. The simplicity of the ingredients and ease of execution were even more exciting. The deep flavors present a wonderful canvas to work with. Aki is pushing for crabmeat and jalapenos and I am looking to sweet corn and country ham.