Last week, Lindsay from Treading My Own Path was dissappointed to find out that her favorite plastic-free pasta brand has introduced a plastic window in their packaging. On Faceook, the company, Barilla, writes: “We just wanted to let you know that despite the new plastic window, the Barilla Blue Box remains a recyclable product as the plastic part is separated through the recycling process and all the fibre based material is recovered separately and recycled. Barilla remains a very environmentally friendly company.”
As others have pointed out in the comments, we really do not need that plastic window. We know there is pasta in the box. And for those who doubt, there is a picture of pasta on it. One solution to this superfluous piece of plastic is to simply make your own pasta! This week Bernadette from Don’t Mess With Dahab shares her pasta making experience.
After switching to reusable shopping bags and refusing bottled water, the next step in our plastic-free journey was learning how to shop in bulk. Armed with our cotton bags and reusable containers and with occasional assistance from friendly clerks, we discovered what was available at our favorite shop, figured out how to tare the scale and delighted in all the goods we could purchase without plastic. Flour, rice, beans and legumes, nuts, popcorn, dried fruits, spices. We were happy shoppers! But there is no dried pasta available in bulk in our town. And I love pasta. That could only mean one thing – it was time to make my own!
Intimidating at first, but Very Delicious!
The thought of making my own homemade pasta was intimidating, despite having grown up in a household that honored our Italian-American heritage with annual ravioli-making days. We would spend the day together making hundreds of ravioli, following a recipe handed down through generations. Over the years, my place in the assembly line varied. Sometimes I mixed the stuffing or rolled it into balls; sometimes I sealed the ravs with a fork. But it was always my father’s job to make and roll out the dough.
Summoning all these pasta memories, I took on the task of making my own. The first recipe I tried was for a fresh egg pasta. I don’t have a pasta machine and kneading and rolling out that dough was a lot of work! The pasta was delicious but I decided to try an eggless pasta recipe next. That was more like it! The dough was very easy to roll out by hand. With the help of some instructions on cutting and shaping pasta by hand, I have made lasagna, farfalle, orecchiette, and fettucini. And raviolis, of course. 🙂
For awhile, I had a routine of making homemade pasta once a week, on Friday mornings. I would dry the pasta. (It doesn’t take long in our desert heat!) Then we would cook and eat half of it that night and I would store the other half for another meal. Yes, this is a lot more time and effort than buying a plastic bag of pasta, but the difference in taste is well worth it! All of my pastas have been absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. 😉 Much tastier than commercial dried pasta.
Buy the ingredients in bulk, paper or glass
Homemade pasta requires only a few ingredients – flour, water, salt, and possibly eggs or olive oil. If you bring your own bag and shop in bulk, you should be able to purchase the flour without plastic. Up to now, I have used all purpose flour, but semolina flour is also available in bulk so I may try some of that next time. I recently found a shop that sells sea salt in bulk and they provided a paper bag, but sometimes salt can be difficult to find without any plastic packaging here in Dahab. If you must buy it packaged, buy the largest package available. Bring your own container to a local farmer’s market, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, to purchase eggs. Or find eggs packaged in cardboard. Olive oil often comes packaged in glass or metal. Search out those options on your next shopping trip.
If you’re a pasta-lover and can’t find pasta in a non-plastic container, then have a go at making your own! I promise it’s not too difficult. If you already make your own pasta and have recipes or suggestions to share, we’d love to hear them.
SIDE NOTE: When the recipes call for “covering” the dough, I use a dampened piece of cotton cloth that I cut from an old bed sheet.
Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle
Don’t Mess with Dahab: