Monday, 7 May 2012

Fresh Pasta and Basil Pesto

Fresh Pasta and Basil Pesto

It was my Domestic Goddess blip (see Coffee and Walnut Cake post) that had me making my first ever batch of fresh egg pasta.  Previous to this, I had never attempted to make my own pasta, probably because I was under the impression that I needed a whole host of equipment and ingredients that I didn't have, didn't want to buy and didn't have the space for.  Oh how wrong I was.  No need for a pasta machine here - as long as you've got a solid rolling pin, your laughing.   

You will need special "00" pasta flour though, but you can find this in most decent supermarkets.  It is even super easy to work out quantities - for every 100g of flour you will need to use one medium egg.  The 100g flour and one egg mix will make roughly enough pasta for one person, although I did 300g flour and 3 eggs to serve two very hungry people.  Just work out how many people you need to feed and adjust accordingly. 

When you come to roll out the pasta you will need to get it as thin as you can - no thicker than a penny, and then using a sharp knife or pizza wheel like I did, cut it into strips.  How wide you want the strips to be is up to you, mine were about 1cm, but you don't need to be too precise.    

Now, there's no point taking time to make your own pasta if your going to ruin it with some crappy shop brought pasta sauce.  Try to see the fresh pasta as a delicious element in its own right, rather than just something that the sauce clings to. When you've made your own pasta you need a really special sauce.  
I had a bunch of beautiful emerald green basil at home that was just calling out to be turned into a pesto. Vibrant grass green, this pesto is a world away from any overly salty shop brought pond sludge.  

Fresh Pasta (per person):
100g "00" Pasta Flour
1 Medium egg (Free-range)

  1. In a bowl put the flour and make a well with your fingers
  2. In the well put the egg(s) and using your fingers mix together.  It may seem a bit dry at first, but persevere and all the flour will be incorporated, so don't add any extra liquid.  
  3. Once it has come together in a rough ball, you will now need to knead it on a lightly floured surface.  
  4. Knead the pasta until it is no longer rough and floury, but smooth.  It took me at least 10 minutes to get to this stage.  
  5. Wrap the pasta tightly in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour to rest.
  6. Once rested, take it out of the fridge and on a lightly floured work-surface roll it out using a rolling pin (or if your super fancy, a pasta machine).  It may be easier to do this in batches.  Keep any pasta that your not working with wrapped in the cling film to stop it from drying out.  
  7. Roll the pasta so that it is no thicker than a penny.  Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut out long strips of the pasta.  
  8. To cook the pasta, put a large pan of salted water on the boil.  When it starts boiling, put in your fresh pasta.  As it is fresh it has a much shorter cooking time than dried pasta, but how long you cook it for depends on how thick the pasta is and how much there is in the pan.  Test it regularly. You want it al dente, with bite.  

Basil Pesto (makes enough for four servings):
Large bunch of Basil
50g Grated Parmesan
50g Pine nuts
1 Fat garlic clove (or two small ones)
Juice of half a Lemon (to taste)
100ml Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

  1. In a dry frying pan, lightly toast the pine nuts until just golden.  Take them off the heat and leave to cool.
  2. In a food processor, blend the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and half of the olive oil together until finely processed. The pesto should have a similar consistency to double cream. You may find that you don't need to use all of the oil - or you may need more.  
  3. Add in the juice of half the lemon and taste, adding more if necessary.  You probably don't want it too lemony just enough to brighten it.  I found that half was just enough.
  4. Stir it through fresh pasta, or use it as a delicious herby salad dressing.  

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