Pasta made from poke sallet is one of the most beautiful foods I have ever created. The flavor of the poke was present but mild, unique, and lovely. I had the idea for making this pasta while processing the first mess of poke that I had picked this year. I was admiring it’s bright green color when I decided to put that green to use in colored pasta. Making this was a fun kitchen experiment, and I could not have been happier with the results. I have made colored pastas before; but, none of them were this beautiful or held their color so well when cooked. Perhaps it’s the method of using a wet (rather than dried and ground) additive. Perhaps it’s just the magic of poke weed.
The vivid noodles made me want to create a spectacular dish. I had hoped to make a dish that included fresh foraged chicken of the woods mushrooms, for color and flavor. But, dry weather, lack of miles hiked, and possibly other foragers have kept us from finding any this Spring. So, I decided to go for the next best thing and created a dish with Poke Sallet Pasta with Lobster…and of course eggs, because poke sallet and eggs are traditional.
Some of you reading this, might find the idea of eating poke sallet with lobster absolutely ridiculous. Maybe it is. But, Southern soul food is now finding it’s way onto many fine dining menus. People are starting to realize that country folks in the southeastern US have been eating delicious foods for generations. I was recently amused looking over the menu of a James Beard award winning soul food restaurant in Seattle. “High-end soul food” seems so bizarre to me, but celebrating these foods of necessity with big price tags is becoming a national trend. They are selling sides of collard greens for $10! I now feel incredibly wealthy every time I open our freezer door. All of our bags of frozen braised collard greens would be worth a small fortune dressed up in an up-scale eatery. So, if common collard greens can be so loved and valued, I guess I can make beautiful pasta from poke sallet and top it with lobster.
Why not? Delicious poke weed is an amazingly versatile ingredient. However, when a mess of poke is cooked, it is not usually used in fanciful dishes. Prepared (safely processed) poke weed is normally fried in bacon grease, scrambled with eggs, or cooked in back fat. All these traditional ways of eating poke are great; but, I love finding ways to feature humble ingredients in more refined dishes. Since poke is a delicious wild food with tremendous culinary potential, why not make beautiful pasta with it?
This is not a full pasta-making tutorial. It took me 3 years to learn to make pasta. I watched plenty of online videos and tried multiple recipes and methods. With every attempt I made sure I had a stock of purchased pasta as a back up, because I knew I only had a 50% chance at success. I don’t have to purchase back-up pasta now. I finally have pasta making figured out. But, like many things involving dough, you really need to develop “a feel for it.” Make pasta 50 times, and you will have it figured out. I will share the basic steps and a few helpful things I learned during my pasta making self-education.
This recipe is for a large quantity of pasta. I have learned to always make large batches of fresh pasta. I want the dough big enough for my KitchenAid mixer to do the kneading, which means using a minimum of 3 cups of flour. I do not recommend making pasta using a mixer unless you have a spiral dough hook.
Making the Pasta
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups Semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon Olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup safely processed, cooked, drained and pressed poke sallet. For process information please read Picking and Processing Poke Sallet; Lessons from Nanny
- Press cooked Poke Sallet with paper towels until you can’t get any more water out of it.
- Puree’ 1/3 cup pressed greens, olive oil and 4 eggs in a food processor.
- Sift flours and salt together. Create a well in the center of the mix and fill with egg/poke mixture. The walls of the well should be thick. It should look like a short, fat volcano of flour…. Don’t let the green lava flow down the sides!
- Slowly mix flour into the center of the well with a fork, forming a thick paste at first, then eventually a clumpy dough. When the dough starts to form, use your hands to work it together and form a ball. Stop incorporating flour when the ball seems too dry to easily stick to more flour. This is the part of pasta dough making that you “need a feel for.” In this recipe or any others, you will probably never use all of the dry ingredients. I had 3/4 cup of flour left that was not incorporated into the dough ball. The amount of flour left over will depend on the size of the eggs and moisture content of the poke.
- Put the roughly formed dough ball in a stand mixer on it’s slowest setting for 1 minute. This is to gently work the dough and help it form into a nicer ball, not to thoroughly knead it.
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Unwrap the dough ball and return to the mixer. This time you will use the mixer to thoroughly knead the dough. You could always knead the dough by hand if you are strong, have plenty of spare time, and like to struggle with things. There is no shame in using a stand mixer for the job. Knead the dough on the lowest setting for 5-7 minutes. Sometimes you may need to scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl for the dough hook to work it all. I know that mine is done when it starts to bind up the mixer and I smell the motor burning a bit. I have a really old Kitchen Aid mixer, so this method might not work so well for others who are kneading in newer models.
- Remove from the mixer and work by hand to form a perfect ball. Cover in plastic and let rest for 20-30 minutes. While waiting you can assemble your pasta machine.
- Our Pasta maker is an Imperia. I have never had any problems with it and it is pretty simple to set up and operate. I am hoping to get the papperdalle and angel-hair attachments, but for now I am rolling out fettuccine or spaghetti. Both of which rolled out beautifully with this recipe.
- The dough ball this recipe will form is large enough to make 5 nice sized pasta sheets. Cut off the first 1/5th of the dough and wrap the remainder back in plastic wrap.
- The beautiful chewy texture that is desired in great pasta is formed in the final kneading which is the first part of working the sheet of pasta through the machine. Set the machine to the widest setting and roll a flattened section of the dough through it. Fold the pasta dough over on itself and run it through, again. Repeat. Change the direction you feed the dough into the machine to help create a smooth edged sheet Fold and repeat the rolling 5-7 times on the thickest setting.
- Set the machine on the next setting and roll through 2-3 times switching the direction that the pasta is fed into the machine. I like to fold the sheet at least 2-3 more times on the 2nd setting as well.
- Continue working the pasta (following the directions for your machine) until you have reached the desired thickness. For most pastas that would be the second to thinnest setting. The thinnest setting is usually only used for stuffed pasta.
- Cut pasta however desired and lightly dust with flour before laying it on a sheet pan or pasta rack.
- Pasta dough can be refrigerated and worked in the next few days as long as it comes to room temperature prior to rolling.
- Extra pasta can be frozen or dried.
Recipe for Poke Sallet Pasta with Lobster and a Fried Egg
Ingredients for 2 servings
- Desired amount of pasta for 2
- Juice from 1 small lemon
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- 2 small (3 oz) lobster tails cooked, shelled and sliced (A better chef would have these thinly sliced and artfully arranged. )
- 2 large fresh eggs
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- A few springs of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Ounces feta cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a small sauce pan.
- Fry the thinly sliced garlic in the sauce pan., add lemon juice, half of the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Turn heat down to the lowest setting to just keep warm while you cook the pasta.
- Cook pasta until al dente’. The time will depend on the thickness of your pasta. Usually for fresh pasta this is not more than 4-5 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking fry a beautiful egg sunny side up or over-medium. The runny yolk will combine with the lemony butter sauce…I just got incredibly hungry when I typed that. This dish was so delicious!
- Toss the pasta with lemon butter sauce, crumbled feta and half of the lobster.
- Plate with the fried egg and lobster on top. Garnish with a bit of thyme.