Sweet Potato Pasta

This month it has felt like there is orange in nearly every meal I make, between the great squash experiment and the 10-pound box of sweet potatoes that followed Jeremy home from Costco. Last night’s dinner was no exception: we got our orange on with plates of homemade sweet potato fettuccine, to celebrate World Pasta Day!

As with most flavored pastas, this was out on a limb for me, since Marcella Hazan is not a big advocate of them. Over the years, however, I’ve occasionally branched out with pastas enhanced with spinach, beets, and saffron, and the sweet potato dough was honestly one of the most pleasant to work with. Although I based it loosely on a recipe over at Too Many Chefs, I actually didn’t measure my ingredients for this one: after roasting and peeling a big sweet potato, I combined about half of it with an egg and a cup or so of flour, then I got the mixer going and added white whole wheat flour in quarter-cup increments until I had the right texture, smooth and stiff, but neither dry or sticky. It was bright orange and bore a striking resemblance to playdough, which may or may not explain why Nolan was so determined to steal pinches to eat the entire time I was rolling it out into sheets.

I served our sweet potato pasta with a sauce of Brussels sprouts, white beans, sage and butter, with toasted local hazelnuts (thanks so much, Aunt Stasia!) and shavings of Pecorino Romano. In the end, I couldn’t really taste the sweet potato in the noodles—maybe there was too much going on in the sauce—but they were gorgeous and the texture was good, so I call that a rousing success. One more potential use for leftover sweet potato puree is always handy!

Making the dough off the cuff meant I ended up with rather a large amount of pasta, however—I ended up with at least twice as much as we could eat in one sitting. I don’t own a pasta drying rack, so while I was trying to figure out where to drape my extra noodles out of Nolan’s reach, I suddenly thought of my new toy, a gently used American Harvest Snackmaster dehydrator that I got for my birthday last week (thanks again, Aunt Stasia!). It was already humming away, drying half-moons of butternut squash to throw into stock or something, but three racks were free. I draped the noodles in as carefully as I could, and by bedtime, they were totally dry and ready to be packed away. It will be a few days at least before I get the chance to see how well they cook up from this state, particularly since I had quite a bit of overlapping—I’m very curious to see whether they will separate in the water or end up in one big clump—but so far I couldn’t be happier with the dehydrator. Now I just need to figure out where to store this behemoth!

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