My sister, the family’s resident pastaterian, is in town so I knew noodles would be on the menu at least a few times this week. I decided to use the occasion to play with my pasta maker. I knew I wanted to add some flavor to the pasta, so I decided to use crown daisy (also known as chrysanthemum greens) because they have a mild but very pervasive flavor. The somewhat floral taste of the crown daisy pairs well with an earthy or nutty flavor, so I made a simple and spicy almond sauce. The power of the crown daisy is so strong, that it’s gentle, floral tones pervade through the noodles and sauce and greatly compliment the spicy almond topping.
There are two main pieces of machinery you will need for this dish- a food processor and a pasta maker (you could substitute them for a blender and a rolling pin, but it will be a good amount more work). If you would like to use a blender, blend the blanched crown daisy and transfer to a bowl to mix in the flour, oil and water (if you use a food processor, you can form the dough in the food processor). The pasta machine doesn’t do anything that a rolling pin can’t, but it is much quicker and results in more even noodles. If you plan on making pasta more than a few times, it is definitely well worth investing in a pasta maker- if you’re never going to make pasta again a rolling pin will do the trick.
The final trick to making your own pasta is to individually place each noodle in the boiling water so they do not stick together while they cook. Cooking them in small batches will also help your noodles remain individuals. They don’t take long to cook before they float gently to the top- at that point they’re finished and you can cook the next batch. Once all the noodles are cooked, toss them in the almond sauce and use crushed or finely chopped almonds as a garnish, and to give the dish a little crunch.
Crown Daisy Pasta in Spicy Almond Sauce
- 1 bunch of crown daisy (around 9 oz)
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 TBSP. sesame oil
- A pinch of salt
- 1-3 TBSP. water, as needed
- ½ cup of almond butter
- 2 TBSP. garlic chili sauce
- 3 TBSP. soy sauce
- A handful of almonds (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and wash the crown daisy while you’re waiting. Once it has reached a boil, add the crown daisy and blanch for around 45 seconds. Then drain and shock under cold water. Use your hands to firmly squeeze out as much of the water as possible before transferring to a food processor. Blend for a couple minutes before adding the flour and sesame oil and pulsing until they are fully incorporated. If the mixture is grainy, add water one tablespoon at a time and let blend until it forms a dough. Remove from the food processor and kneed a couple times before setting aside to rest for 10 minutes.
2. While it is resting, mix the almond butter, garlic chili sauce and soy sauce and set aside. Finely chop the almonds to use as a garnish and and set aside. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil, and return to your pasta dough.
3. Separate the dough into four pieces. One piece at a time, use a rolling pin or pasta maker to flatten the dough. If you have a fettuccini attachment run the dough through it, if not use a knife to chop into strips. In four batches, place the noodles individually into the boiling water to avoid sticking, and cook for a couple minutes until the noodles float. Remove and place in a colander. Repeat with the other quarters. Once all the noodles are cooked, use the pot or a large bowl to combine the noodles and sauce, tossing well. Serve warm with the finely chopped almonds on top.