Did the name of the recipe in the title of this blog post draw you to this site? I thought so. The idea of rose pasta with rose mint pesto is intriguing, and it actually led me to finally figure out how to make gluten-free pasta from scratch. After seeing this recipe (for non-gluten-free) rose pasta the first time I opened the cookbook Aroma Kitchen: Cooking With Essential Oils, by Sabine Hönig and Ursula Kutschera, I knew I had to try it. The only way I was likely to be able to taste rose pasta with rose pesto, however, was to learn how to make gluten-free pasta, and then to make the recipe myself. This book, then, inspired me to challenge myself in the kitchen beyond the recipes that appear between its beautiful covers.
The book Aroma Kitchen is a unique, interesting, and visually pleasing cookbook. Bloggers get all kinds of promotional emails, and I tend to dismiss many of these emails. I will promote only those products that I will honestly use, and that I think beneficial in some way to people who have to eat gluten-free or who love to cook or bake in general. While scanning quickly through the scads of emails I receive at my blog email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) one evening, I paused momentarily on an email from Schiffer publishing advertising some of the publisher’s new cookbooks. I was immediately drawn to Aroma Kitchen; I love to experiment with floral and other interesting flavors, and I am extremely interested in enhancing flavor in my cooking and baking by learning ways to incorporate essential oils into my recipes.
While reading the preface to the cookbook, I felt an immediate kinship with the two ladies who wrote the book when I read their self-description:
By the way, we are normal, everyday women, not trained cooks. We simply love good food and pursue independent occupations. We might be a little “old-school” because we actually cook every day with fresh ingredients and use as few instant and processed products as possible to nourish our loved ones in a healthy and varied way (7).
What can be more attractive than a cookbook written by two women whose inspiration for cooking derives from their love of their families, their love of flavorful food made with quality, natural ingredients, and their desire to combine these loves to create interesting but nourishing meals in their own kitchens? If this particular passage had failed to move me as it did, surely this next passage would have done the job. After explaining why they avoid using margarine, processed fats, and oils, Ms. Hönig and Kutschera clearly state their position on the quality of oils they choose to use:
Our motto, therefore, is why use denatured foods if nature already provides everything we need? Healthy, clean, fully matured seeds, the experience and the magic touch of the pressing masters and the traditional press are the elements from which the perfect drop is produced.
Finding that this books authors and I share the same values about the importance of using natural, minimally processed, flavorful, and nutritious ingredients to prepare lovely dishes for our loved ones, I was ready to delve into the content of the pages.
The book is divided into sections, the first two of which are very educational. The first section covers what the authors refer to as theoretical information about essential oils. Here they discuss the character of essential oils, as well as the various methods of extraction used to produce oil from seeds and plants. Additionally, this section covers quality considerations, the usage and effects of oils for purposes other than cooking, and guidelines for the safe application of oils on the body and otherwise. The second section details instructions for cooking with essential oils.
The third section of Aromatic Kitchen, “Preparing Aromatic Oils,” includes recipes for seasoning oils, seasoned vinegars, flavored butters, seasoned salts, seasoned syrups, seasoned honey, and flavored sugars. This section ends with helpful hints concerning types of containers and utensils to use for these oil seasoned flavor enhancers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog, every one of the recipes in this section is naturally gluten-free.
The fourth section of this book is devoted to tips for using the cookbook, which I have found to be helpful. At this point, recipes for dishes begin, beginning (as usual) with appetizers and finishing with desserts. Most of these recipes, such as Mango Soup with Lemongrass and Cinnamon Oil, and Aristo Pork Filet with Polenta-Coffee Souffle, are naturally gluten-free (as well as vegetarian). The few recipes that contain gluten, such as Tiramisu with Cardamom Coffee, and Strudel Pastry Baskets with Mushroom Filling, are easily deglutenized; in fact, the latter recipes offers a choice of using rice paper leaves or strudel pastry leaves.
Although many of the recipes in Aroma Kitchen, by virtue of their elegant titles, sound complicated to execute, they really are very fairly simple to follow. Moreover, most of the recipes call for a manageable number of ingredients. A few of the recipes call for ingredients uncommonly found in most pantries, but these ingredients are not difficult to find. Most of the recipes call for common ingredients.
Finding quality oils seems to be the biggest challenge presented by this type of cookbook. Hönig and Kutschera explain in detail the various methods of oil extraction, and they provide guidelines for choosing quality oils. The best quality oils suited for cooking and baking can be (and usually are) expensive. Very little oil is used in each recipe, however, and the best quality oils have a long shelf life (as long as they are correctly packaged and stored). Moreover, oils have multiple uses outside the kitchen, and the authors spend some time instructing how to use the oils in various ways. Once these considerations are factored into the price of quality oils, their price seems more reasonable. Interestingly, the authors do not endorse any one brand of oil in this cookbook. At this point I’ll put in my endorsement for Young Living Essential Oils. I don’t see these oils, but I use them. I was introduced to them by Jill Sulak (of Integrative Therapies), my awesome sport massage therapist. I’m not getting paid to mention YLEO. They are the oils I use for various purposes, however, and I trust their quality. You can read about the extraction method Young Living website.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one particular recipe (Rose Pasta With Rose Mint Pesto) inspired me to finally learn to make gluten-free pasta from scratch. I watched multiple pasta-making instruction videos (for gluten as well as gluten-free pasta) so that I could learn how to use the machine I bought. I bought a machine that costs a little more than the general pasta-maker, mostly because it has more settings than the less expensive brands and I read that a machine with multiple settings works better with gluten-free pasta dough. I read dozens of articles and blog posts about making fresh pasta. I found articles and blog posts about making gluten pasta as helpful as articles and blog posts about making gluten-free pasta. I experimented (using less expensive flours) to learn how to determine the right texture of dough that leads to successful pasta. I yelled at myself, the pasta dough, and the pasta maker quite a bit. I cried over failed pasta quite a bit. Finally, after weeks of experimenting and swearing off pasta-making only to try it again more determined than ever, I did it. I finally figured out the cause of my failure and the secret to my success: egg yolk. I may have read this tip in an article about pasta making and I’m almost sure I did, but I read so much material and watched so many YouTube pasta-making videos that I cannot correctly remember where I found the information.
My pasta failures were related to my fear of making pasta dough too wet. Pasta dough, to me, can feel deceptively moist when it is actually too dry. Some pasta recipes include oil as a wet ingredient, some include water as a wet ingredient, and some include only eggs. I like the pasta made with eggs. When I finally figured out that my pasta failures were caused by dry dough, I added egg yolk, instead of an entire egg, until the pasta was moist enough. I got over my fear of having too wet pasta dough when I remembered that I could always add a little more flour if it became too wet. Finally, the day came when I decided I was ready to try the rose pasta recipe from the Aroma Kitchen cookbook. I planned the dish for dinner, so I had to make it work. Rehearsal was over; showtime had arrived.
Instead of using a general gluten-free pasta recipe, I deglutenized the pasta recipe in the book. I wanted to make sure I had an amount of pasta equal to that in the recipe I was following. During my pasta experiments, I discovered the combination of flour that I think worked best for me: super fine brown rice flour, quinoa flour, sweet (glutinous) white flour, and tapioca starch. I used only a little quinoa, since I didn’t want the flavor of the quinoa flour to interfere with the flavor of the other ingredients in the pasta. Quinoa flour is higher in protein than many other gluten-free flours, so it helps to hold the pasta dough together.
I found the food-quality rose petals I used in this dish on Amazon. I have used them to make such things as rose tea, rose sugar, and rose pastries in addition to the rose pasta, so having them in my pantry has led to much joy in my kitchen. The other ingredients in this pasta dish are easy to find in your local grocery store.
The pesto recipe for this pasta requires sweet salt, the recipe for which is in the seasoning oils section of the book. I include the recipe below. I sprinkled some of this sweet salt on salmon I baked the other night. It was a delicious flavor enhancer!
*You may substitute 2 3/4 cups all purpose gluten-free flour mix for the flours I used, as long as the brand you use does not include bean flour. Bean flours are not transparent; thus, they will interfere with the flavors highlighted in this recipe.
**The original recipe, as written in the book, requires the pasta dough to be hand-mixed in a bowl. I made my pasta in a food processor, so I reflect that change in the recipe below.
175 g Authentic Foods super-fine brown rice flour
58 g Quinoa flour
58 g Sweet (glutinous) rice flour
58 g Tapioca starch
1 tsp salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
1 Handful of rose petals (untreated)
2 drps Rose oil
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
-Mix the flours, salt, and finely chopped rose petals into a food processor.
-Emulsify the rose oil with the eggs and egg yolk, then pour mixture into the
food processor with the dry ingredients.
-Pulse until mixture forms a ball of dough.
-Remove the dough from the food processor, and with your hands shape it into
a shiny ball.
-Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for an hour.
-Make the pesto while waiting for the dough to rest.
-Remove the pasta dough from the plastic wrap and cut it into fourths.
-Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, put dough through the pasta machine
on the sheet setting (keep the portions of dough you are not using wrapped,
to prevent the dough from drying out).
-Starting with the widest setting, work the pasta dough through the machine
three or four times, adjusting the setting by one notch each time you send
the dough through (sprinkle tapioca flour or rice flour liberally on the
dough as you work it through the machine, to prevent sticking).
-To prevent the dough from having ragged edges, fold it like an envelope each
time you send it through the sheet setting, feeding it width-wise through
the machine each time.
-Cut the long sheet of pasta in half, and working with a half sheet at a
time, work the dough sheets through the fettuccine setting on your machine.
-Place the fettuccini noodles on a pasta drying rack, or nest them on a sheet
of parchment paper, until you have run all sections of the dough through the
-Cook the pasta in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes, only.
3 Handfuls of rose petals
1 Handful of apple mint leaves
A dash of lemon juice
2/3 c Almond or olive oil
1 1/2 oz Brazil or pine nuts
1 1/2 oz Parmesan or Edam cheese
– Cut or chop mint leaves and rose petals, and mix with sweet salt and lemon juice.
– Process together with the oil and Brazil or pine nuts in a food processor
(or use a powerful immersion blender).
– Mix with the finely grated Parmesan or Edam cheese. Keep warm.
– Remove the pasta from the plastic wrap.
– Roll out the pasta dough with a rolling pin and cut into even strips, or
use a pasta machine to form into fettuccini.
– Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente.
– Drain, and immediately mix with warm pesto, and serve.
1/2 c Sea salt
1/4 c Brown sugar
1 tbls Dried lemon peel
10 drps Vanilla oil