Sweet Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto and Fresh Pasta

At some point in the growing season, we find ourselves with a volume of garden delights that could go unused. When your basil runneth over, it's time to make pesto. If you add your parmesan cheese last, you can freeze the mixture prior to adding the cheese.  When you thaw it out for use in the winter months, finish with the freshly grated parmesan or Romano. If you are not a gardener, you can often find basil in larger quantities and cheaper at farm markets late in the growing season.

Here we combine a fresh fettuccine with our fresh basil pesto and create a multilayer delight.


Fresh Pasta - deconstructed with some symmetry. 



















Pesto ingredients


















Ingredients:

Pesto                                                Fresh Pasta Dough 
  • 4 cups plus, Fresh Basil                                      3 cups 00 (double zero) flour
  • 4 Garlic cloves                                                    1 cup Duram Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Pine nuts                                                 3 Tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Olive oil                                       Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup Parmesan                                                   3 Eggs
  • salt/pepper to taste                                              2 tbsp cold water                                
  • One lemon for juice                                          
Time for pesto : 10 minutes
Time for fresh pasta: 50 minutes (Including the 30 minutes in the fridge)
Total time should be about 50 minutes if you make the pesto while your pasta in resting in fridge. 

The oil difference will depend on how tightly you cram the basil in the measuring cup. Just make sure it all incorporates and you don't have oil pockets.

Special tools: Food processor or immersion blender for pesto.
                       Pasta machine for rolling and cutting the pasta dough

If you plan on making this whole recipe in one day, make your pasta dough first and put in the fridge for the 30 minutes and then return to the pesto.

Pesto
Add your basil and garlic to the processor with about 1/4 of the olive oil and start mixing. Add your pine nuts, salt and pepper to the mixture and mix again. Start adding the rest of the oil slowly until combined. 

At this point you can freeze the mixture for a later use, or add the parmesan for immediate enjoyment.
Basil mixture and parmesan

Place both flours and salt in a bowl. I like to mix my flours and salt first and then plop them on my work surface. Alternatively you can make a nice design on the work table because you have artists helping out on the camera.

The artist shot

Either way, combine the dry ingredients and me sure they are incorporated.

Next make the traditional well in the middle of you flour pile, with about a one inch edge all around the well.

Creating the well

Crack your eggs in a separate bowl so you can fish out any runaway shell pieces. It's easier to do this in a bowl than in the flour mixture.  Add the olive oil and one egg to the well in the flour.  Use a fork to start mixing the flour into the egg. Don't worry if it starts to overrun your well, just shore up the outer edges as best you can and keep working. Add the other 2-3 eggs, one at a time, until the dough starts to come together.


Eggs in a basket?

From flour to dough, here we go

Work the dough lightly into a ball. It should not be as pliable as a bread dough, but be sure it had some smoothness to it.

Coming together

Wrap up your pasta dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can keep the dough for a day, but it starts to darken in  color and the freshness changes quickly.

Cut the ball of dough into quarters and work quickly so the dough does not dry out.  One quarter at a time, take each piece and form it into a torpedo shape. On the thickest setting of your pasta roller, feed the dough into the machine lengthwise.  Use one hand to feed the machine, one to crank the roller, and one to catch and guide the dough as it comes out. See the problem here. Not to worry, you will get the hang of it by the time you are done, as you will roll quite a few times.

30 minutes (or one drink on the porch) later.

The plan here is to make some long thin even sheets that will be run through the cutting attachment on the machine.  I will work with the output a little each time, cutting and shaping to get the end product in a shape easiest for the final product.

Chelsea and I working the dough, Laura working the camera

Run the dough through the roller twice at each level. After level 2, the pasta should start to get too long to work as just one unit. Cut the piece into 2 to 4 (12 to 14 inches long) sections at this point and continue to run each piece of dough through each level of the roller twice.  When I get to 5, I call it a day for thickness. Set the sheets aside on a floured surface, and continue on to the rest of the pasta dough.

. . . and working

Now that the pasta is rolled into sheets, it's time to cut it into the desired shapes. For this recipe I have used the fettuccine setting. It's a good starting point and a little easier to handle.  To make the pasta look uniform, you can trim the edges to make perfect rectangles.  None of the participants needed that uniformity here.

The light at the end of the "cutting board"

The pasta machine has an attachment to run the sheets through to cut into strips. Be cautious not to pull the pasta through but merely guide the sheets in and out. Place each batch on a floured surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top to avoid sticking.

From here, it's a 2 minute cooking process in boiling water and simply adding the pasta to the pesto sauce. I like to place the pesto in a skillet on very low and add the cooked pasta directly to the pan. Add a little pasta water if the sauce looks to dry.

Mix thoroughly in the pan and serve with parmesan shavings for an added touch.

One course of our afternoon cooking and drinking

A final shot before we enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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