Nebraska has a 2-3 month growing season and when the basil grows high- it is time to make pesto! I like a mixture of basil and parsley in my pesto- I like the “greener” taste that parsley gives to the pesto.
Nothing goes better with pesto than fresh pasta. Today we made handkerchief pasta (Fazzoletti) -simple,silky and delicious. It is essentially ravioli sheets cut into squares. My pasta machine makes this very very easy but here Mark Bittman shows how you can use a rolling pin to achieve the same effect (https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/12/dining/12mini.html)
Pesto: 2 cups basil leaves, 1 cup parsley leaves, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 cup Parmesan reggiano, 1/2 cup olive oil: Use food processor to make a fine paste. Stores in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
Pasta: 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 tsp salt. Make a fairly dry dough using the absolute minimum amount of water needed ( I used 2 tbsp today). It takes me 4-5 minutes using my kitchen aid stand mixer
Rolling pasta: I used the pasta attachment to my kitchen aid. Start on the first setting- run the dough through thrice (folding into an envelope each time). Decrease the setting by 1 in each subsequent run all the way to the thinnest setting (8). Use flour liberally to prevent the pasta sticking. Cut into large 4 inch squares. Cook in salted boiling water for 3 minutes or so (add the squares one at a time- they tend to stick)
Thin pesto with pasta cooking water, toss with pasta and enjoy the taste of spring.
It’s easier than it sounds and tremendous fun! You do need a pasta maker. I make it enough that I have a kitchen aid attachment but a hand cranked pasta maker is available for less than a $100. My kid did well in her piano recital and I asked her what she wanted for dinner and the answer is always “let’s make pasta”
Recipe: I use Michael Ruhlman’s recipe – 3 parts flour to 2 parts egg. It’s easy – I crack the eggs required (1 for each portion of pasta), weigh them and add 1.5 times the amount of all purpose flour and a tsp of salt. A large egg is approximately 50 g.
I use the dough hook of my stand mixer to knead – it will look tacky but have faith in the recipe and keep at it for 5 min- it will come together. Now let it rest for at least 30 min ! This is vital- I’ve skipped this step once to my great regret and never done it again.
Divide the dough into manageable quarters or eights. Start at the largest setting on your pasta machine- pass the dough through. I flour the dough frequently. Fold into thirds, turn it and pass through it again. Do this 3 times and then consecutively pass through thinner settings. For fettuccine, which I made today – the 2nd or 3rd last setting is good. For ravioli, I go to the thinnest. Switch the attachments for the cutting attachment – cut the sheets to manageable lengths and pass the pass through. Flour liberally – you have a nest of pasta. Cook in salted boiling water for 3 min !
My daughter is reading Lemony Snicket and wanted a vegetarian puttanesca. Here is my version
3 tbsp butter, add 5 chopped garlic cloves, about ¼ cup chopped olives, 2-3 tbsp capers. Cook for a minute. Add 2 small cans of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (28 oz) and 1 tbsp of gochuang (to replace the umami of the anchovies). Simmer for the 30 minutes you are making the pasta.
Toss pasta with warm sauce, top with some good olive oil and Parmesan. Well worthy of a 9 year old piano maestro 🙂