Now that there is a chill in the air and the nights are drawing in sooner I’m in the mood to cook at home. We live in an era of convenience these days, sometimes its fun to make your own as opposed to buying things in. Once such a thing is Pasta and Pesto. I find making pasta completely soothing. Maybe its all that tension released when you are working the dough by hand? I don’t know, I just know that making things by had brings me joy. Plus it means that I can go shopping for quality ingredients at Lina Stores
Making pasta is pretty easy. You don’t need any fancy equipment to make some hand formed pasta. Just a little bit of gumption and a pinch of aggression to work out. All jokes about the aggression. Though I find doing anything like this with my hand very therapeutic and soothing.
What you do need for great pasta is great eggs... Clarence Court is my go-to egg, but especially for pasta making. The colour of the Burford Brown Yolks is magical in pasta.
I know that chunky pasta is commonplace when it comes to pesto, but I prefer it creamy. Before you think that I'm going to get all American on you and suggest that you splash some cream in the pasta, just calm down. I will do no such thing. The creaminess will come from a little kitchen alchemy from the fats from the nuts and oil emulsifying with a little water. Think of it as an egg-free mayo that is beautiful on pasta (and in sandwiches and as a salad dressing base if you whisk in some white wine vinegar and more olive oil.)
Hand formed Fresh Egg Pasta
For one small serving of pasta
Crack your eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork, Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the eggs into it. Using the fork or the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined.
Then comes the fun bit…. Knead the pieces of dough together till is smooth and almost glossy. This is going to take a good 15 minutes of pummeling, pounding and stretching to get to the point that you can wrap in cling and chill.
Unless you have a Pasta machine to roll and cut I will only advocate the making of Pinci (yes I know it’s not traditionally made with egg pasta) and Orecchiette
To make Pinci: Take Malteser sized lumps of the pasta and using both hands roll them out to a long earthworm shape. Never pull or stretch into shape as they will just recoil their original shape. Remember that pasta will grow when its cooked so try and err on making your earthworms thinner rather than fat ones.
To make Orecchiette: take a lump of pasta that’s between a Malteser and a pea. Roll it into a ball. On a board lightly floured with ‘00’ flour smoosh the pasta ball with your thumb. Then continue pushing the ball down whilst pushing it away from you to make it curl around your thumb. They should be shaped like an ear or little shell.
The thickness of your pasta shapes will determine the length of time that you need to boil them you make your shapes. Usually about 5-7 minutes for perfect al dente. Be sure to boil in heavily salted water.
This pasta will hold once shaped for about 4 days… Remember the longer that you keep it, the longer it will need to cook.
Weigh out the flour
Make a well
Crack your eggs in the well
Work the egg in
Keep doing it untill the dough comes together
Now you gotta work!
Keep working it
Rest it when its smooth and glossy
Now shape, making picci
Look at them ready for the boil and pesto!
70g Nuts Pinenuts, Hazelnuts or Pistachios (Roasted and Skinned)
130ml Olive oil
100g Parmesan grated
150g basil leaves with as much of the stalks removed.
Blitz the nuts with 100ml oil until you have a smooth nut butter consistency.
Then blitz in the grated parmesan. It's going to look like a chunky peanut butter.
Then add the basil and the remaining oil and blitz. At this point, its going to need a couple of stops and scrapes to ensure that all the basil is chopped combined.
Then add 50ml of cold water and blitz again. This is when it will come together as a creamy pesto
You can keep this in the fridge for about a week. It never lasts more than a day.