Homemade Pasta with Classic Basil Pesto

March 16, 2014

I must say, until recently I didn’t really “get” homemade pasta. It’s chewy, sure, and hugs a ragu like a true, attentive Italian lover. But to get that al dente bite I so adore I have always favoured dried pasta, notably my favourite brand, Giuseppe. For my beloved spaghetti with mussels dried pasta is obligatory, and so it’s easy to see how I leaned towards the quick, dried variety.

It wasn’t until a dinner party with my girlfriends where I devoured fresh linguini in a mushroom sauce that I truly appreciated fresh pasta. My friend had cooked the strands wonderfully al dente, so it had the benefit of being fresh AND toothsome. I mean, just come on! The meal was trememdesouly delicious, completely swoon worthy and downright sensual. The following night Ben and I dusted off our pasta machine (a wedding gift from my brother) and got rolling…

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True to form, we made enough dough for a party of fifteen, and so decided to freeze two thirds of the dough before the rolling step. For our first batch we made ravioli, which was lovely but, let’s be real, the best part was the butter sage sauce with crispy prosciutto and pinenuts. And I was frankly tired after all the steps of mixing and chilling and cutting and rolling and cutting and filling… I needed a stiff aperitif, not a bowl of pasta.

When our fresh pasta craving arrived a second time, we simply had to defrost a portion of excess dough and get rolling (note, the dough was on the tacky side prior to freezing and I believe this may have influenced the stellar result. Please also note, however, that I have absolutely no authority on this matter).

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This time, the whole fresh pasta experience was a pleasure, far less overwhelming without all those steps that come when preparing the entire dough from scratch. We simply rolled it out and whimsically decided upon the linguini attachment to make our desired strands just so.

To fold through our silky fresh pasta I whizzed up a classic pesto using farm-fresh basil and we had ourselves the most splendid meal, crafted so very lovingly and expertly that dare I say no Italian lover could compete. Two generous glasses of red wine diluted our evening and hence may or may not have influenced my affection towards our meal, I’m not entirely certain. But really, what’s not to love…

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Homemade Pasta Dough

We followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe from his fantastic instructional book, Cook (recipe link).

Classic Basil Pesto

Ingredients
3 & 1/2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup lightly toasted Pinenuts
1 small clove Garlic
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (I find Grana Padano works just fine in pesto)
Fresh Lemon Juice, to taste

Method
1. Place the basil, pinenuts, garlic and 1/2 the oil in a food processor. Whizz until it starts to form a paste.
2. Stop and scrape the sides down, then add the cheese and blend again, drizzling in the remaining oil until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Add some lemon juice if you like.
3. Scoop into a jar and cover with more olive oil. Store in the fridge and keep topping with more oil when you take some, to ensure the pesto remains covered. I keep mine for a long time in the fridge. Freezing will keep it fresh and, as my friend Robin encourages, will allow for lovely pesto days even in the middle of Winter. Indeed.

To assemble your meal, I serve a portion of pasta and then top with a spoonful of pesto (as little or as much depending on your preference). I’ll add a little reserved starchy cooking water and incorporate the pesto with the silky strands. End with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some freshly cracked black pepper and additional parmesan if you desire. Chopped cherry tomatoes are a welcome addition.

Heidi xo

 

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  • Winston March 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Lovely recipe, Heidi. I so enjoy seeing what you share on Instagram every day your home breakfasts/dinners are always so varied and never gets old (unlike me who tend to hit a homecooking “rut” way too often). Good stuff

    • Heidi March 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks, Winston! That’s lovely 🙂 x

  • Stephanie March 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    That looks absolutely lovely, Heidi! I have to admit that I’ve never attempted a batch of fresh pasta…even though I do own a pasta maker. I think I’m deterred by the whole newness of it but I really want to set my worries aside and just bite the bullet! I think pesto will /always/ be my favorite sauce for noodles– it’s just sublime when made right. 🙂 And if you were guided by Jamie Oliver, I have no doubt it was scrumptious; I adore him and his recipes. Wine helps too. 🙂

    • Heidi March 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Well said, lady. Nothing like pesto + homemade pasta + wine! Definitely give it a go x

  • Rebecca March 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Yum it looks delicious – I am yet to make my own pasta and I can’t wait any longer, This must be made. Yum
    http://www.dancingthroughsunday.typepad.com
    x

    • Heidi March 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      You’ll get to have so much beautiful pasta in June!! x

  • Sam March 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Oh I need to make this! Dried pasta just pales in comparison to homemade, doesn’t it?

    • Heidi April 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

      There’s totally a time & place for dried pasta. But there is something special about fresh 😉 x

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  • Anita October 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Just made this awesome but simple dinner and it was a complete hit with my just turned one year old, who knew she’d be such a fan of garlic!? (I also threw in some spinach leaves into the blender to add some more hidden green and it worked a treat)
    Thank you so much for your efforts and amazing recipes they are keeping lots of people happy and well fed! X

    • Heidi October 5, 2016 at 10:31 am

      What a sweet comment, Anita, thank you so much! Thrilled to hear that. And fabulous idea with the spinach! x