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I would like to make interesting, unusual home-made pasta. I am looking for ideas on what to add to the pasta dough to add colour and taste (especially taste).

Well-known additions include:

  • puréed spinach
  • carrots
  • beetroot juice (adds colour only in my experience, but little taste)
  • tomato puree

does anybody know other ingredients - preferably vegetables - that work? I was thinking about pumpkin for example, but I'm unsure whether the pasta will hold together.

Update: Thanks for all the great ideas folks! I'm currently looking to get a better tool to make the pasta - cutting by hand doesn't produce perfect results - I'll start experimenting once I have it.

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closed as not constructive by rumtscho Aug 14 '12 at 19:03

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This is very nearly a duplicate, although the original question asked for them specifically for color, not necessarily for flavor : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/1664/… –  Joe Oct 3 '10 at 19:54
Oh ... and for the pumpkin -- consider gnocchi, as opposed to a pasta you'd have to roll out. –  Joe Oct 3 '10 at 19:55
@Joe re your 1st comment, true! Overlooked that one. Seeing as I'm very focused on flavour here, I'd appreciate its staying open though (although it's admittedly very close). Re pumpkin, interesting - so that's why potato based pasta is in the more compact form! –  Pekka 웃 Oct 3 '10 at 19:56
I'm not planning on closing it -- it's clearly a new question, given answers that'd provide flavor without adding color. (I probably should've said 'similar' rather than 'nearly a duplicate') –  Joe Oct 3 '10 at 20:11
Whatever you add just needs to have more water than fiber. Pumpkin would work fine as an addition though it might not work as the only liquid source if it interferes with the gluten development. –  Sobachatina Oct 5 '10 at 19:05

9 Answers 9

If you have access to a smoker, smoke water and use that for making your dough.

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Mmmm, very interesting idea! I don't have access to one where I live, but I may be able to get my Dad to run some water through one and send it to me. –  Pekka 웃 Oct 4 '10 at 11:49
@roux - would liquid smoke have a similar effect, or no? –  justkt Oct 4 '10 at 13:13
justkt, no idea. I don't much like the flavour of liquid smoke tbh. –  daniel Oct 4 '10 at 19:43
Liquid smoke is condensed smoke dissolved in water, so it should work the same. I suspect @roux's flavor differences are from him using better/different wood in his smoker. –  derobert Oct 7 '10 at 20:59
That sounds awesome, but I have questions! Rather than hash it out in the comments, I asked a question. Please provide an answer! Thanks. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/7959/how-do-you-smoke-water –  yossarian Oct 8 '10 at 23:17

I've used beer as the only liquid and it works well. Maybe wine would work too? I haven't done it yet, but I know finely minced fresh herbs like basil and oregano would be very good. How about roasted garlic or roasted and peeled pepper puree? For a seafood pasta dish I can see using clam juice for the liquid.

The mention of pumpkin reminds me of gnocchi recipes. Gnocchi is a much more fragile dough that can't be handled like pasta dough, so I would be concerned about it falling apart.

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Very interesting ideas, thank you! Adding Wine sounds especially fascinating. Roasted garlic sounds lovely, too. I also thought about adding fruit (e.g. apples or bananas) but like with the pumpkin, the dough would probably become too fragile. I'll experiment once I've got the tools! –  Pekka 웃 Oct 3 '10 at 17:55

As sweet potatoes can be used in gnocchi, perhaps that would also apply here. It sounds delicious (though similar to pumpkin or butternut squash, I suppose).

What about greens other than spinach, such as carrot greens, celery leaves, parsley, and other herbs? Or if you are brave, try beet greens or kale.

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Pureed carmelized onions. Maybe peas.

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I'm guessing your recipe calls for eggs as liquid. Otherwise, I propose eggs for flavor and a nice yellow yolk color.

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Garlic garlic and more garlic.

Now I'm tempted to try onions too. I've always used garlic and never really thought about branching out to other vegetables.

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I've had it made with squid ink.

Ideally make two batches, apply ink to one and kind of squidge it together while rolling out. It makes it look striped and fantastic. (I had this at Alain ducasse at the Dorchester and it was amazing, served with squid and a citrus sauce).

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Sauteed and pureed nettle tops work well in pasta (they lose their sting on cooking!). Sun-dried tomato, fresh pureed basil, saffron and squid ink are also good flavourings. Saffron is a very delicate flavour but goes well with seafood and cream sauces.

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Sepia to have a nice black pasta (spaghetti al nero di seppia), saffron or maybe curry to have a yellow one.

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Wow that is so gross –  mfg Oct 12 '10 at 19:30

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