Fresh Pasta & Basil Pesto

Pasta has a special spot in my soul.  I’ve just always really loved it even though there is not a drop of Italian blood found in my body.  No noodle-y food heritage, at all, from any culture!  One Valentine’s day, back when we lived in Montréal, my now-husband and I bought a pasta maker for $25 because it was cheaper than going out for dinner; needless to say, it has been the gift that keeps on giving.  From countless potlucks to simple suppers, we have made hundreds of delicious suppers with it.  And if you’re thinking, ‘hey, she must be really old since you can’t find a pasta maker for $25 anywhere these days’: I’m not, but there’s this awesome kitchen store called Nino’s on the east side of St-Laurent, just north of Prince-Arthur that you should check out where even students could (still can?!) stock a decent kitchen on the cheap.

There are I-don’t-know-how-many ways to make pasta dough, be it the variation in ingredients (flours, seasonings, eggs, wine, water, olive oil, etc.) or tool used (hand, food processor, etc.) and they are regional, modernized, and/or personalized.  I somehow stumbled into using a simple, nutrient dense egg-based pasta over the years, with the ratio of 1/2 c flour to 1 (large) egg.  I find this to be just the right amount of moisture, generally-speaking.  Some times it is on the wetter side, which I prefer, as I can always knead in more flour, one tablespoonful at a time.  And, if I have the foresight to make the dough ahead, especially when using typo ’00’, it really firms up nicely.  When I first started making pasta, I swore by using the food processor, but now I am wholly converted to using just a fork and a bigger bowl, grateful for the peace and quiet, as well as reaping the benefits of fewer dishes to clean up.

A double batch as outlined in the recipe, below, is still just the right amount for our family of two adults, one preschooler, and one toddler as a main course for dinner, but there are no leftovers.  If I am making chicken noodle soup, for example, I just make a single batch for 6 cups (give or take) of stock.

Fresh Pasta

Servings: 4
Time: 15-30 mins, including rolling (but not resting)
Difficulty: easy
Enjoy fresh, light, flavourful, and nutritious pasta.
Created by some Italian nonna somewhere, I’m sure.

  • 1/2 c unbleached flour
  • 1/2 c typo ’00’ flour (or unbleached flour)
  • 2 (large) eggs
  • extra flour to add, depending on flour combination, humidity, egg size, for kneading, and for dusting when rolling (~1/4-1/3 c)
  1. Place the dry ingredients in a bigger sized bowl.
  2. Crack the eggs into the middle of the bowl and mix in with a strong table fork.  In a minute, it will all start to come together, switch to mixing and kneading with one hand as you hold the bowl with another.  Add flour by the tablespoonful and knead until you have a dough that is smooth and thicker feeling than bread dough.
  3. Let rest if you have time, covered with a clean tea towel.
  4. Put on a large pot of water salted to be as salty as the Mediterranean.
  5. Cut the dough into quarters, dust with flour, and then roll out one by one to your desired thickness.
  6. When the dough has been all rolled out, cut it into desired shape.
  7. Put in boiling water and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes or so.
  8. Drain quickly and toss with olive oil and/or butter.

The following is a lovely seasonal treat (or an out of season treat if you freeze some leftovers)!  I’ve called it “Poor Person’s Pesto” because it uses sunflower seeds instead of more traditional pine nuts.  I absolutely adore pine nuts, but sometimes their price makes me cringe.  Sunflower seeds are my go to when I’m feeling cheap.  Obviously, you can use pine nuts here.  Let me know if you try any other nut that you like!  Pumpkin seeds, perhaps?

 

Poor Person’s Pesto

Servings: 4-6
Time: 10 mins
Difficulty: easy
Super plain, basil-centric pesto.  Garlic free and kid-friendly.
Created by Lindsay Bliek

  • 2 c fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 T sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 c parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Lightly toast your sunflower seeds.
  2. Put everything into your mortar, food processor, or mini-food processor.  (I use the mini-food processor that came with my immersion blender as I don’t have a mortar big enough to hold this… yet!)
  3. Blend until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Check for flavour and texture, add more salt, pepper, and/or olive oil, as desired.
  5. Add a little bit to your fresh pasta and toss, serve the kids, then add a schwack more for the adults.  Top all dishes with grated parm, if you like, and enjoy!

The extra pesto freezes beautiful in an ice cube tray.  I used one that has a silicon bottom, making it easy to pop out the frozen pesto “cubes”.  I will used these later for pasta or on pizza or with rice for veggie wraps or …  Enjoy!

What have you gleaned from this? Questions? Comments? Please reply here: