8/17/2010

Pesto with Pasta

 Just in case you, as I have a tendency to do, think shopping in your very favorite Natural Foods store is, or should be a foolproof experience, forget it already.  No one here is owning up to who actually bought the cheese in question.  It was either him or I.  But, in any case, shouldn't have been in that place at all.  Here are the rules, according to the if-it-looks-like-a-duck theory (if you'll hang in there with my rant):

1. If it looks like orange processed cheese,
2. If it tastes like processed cheese,
3. It resists mold beautifully,
4. It will stay in a tidy little square when heated,
Guess what, it is processed cheese.  Duh. So much for that.  Do what you will with it.  Maybe you love processed cheese.  In that case, my apologies.

I have gone over these salient facts with the employees of said store, with a request for proper labeling.  This was labeled "Smoked Sharp Cheddar."  And, do you know what I was told?  No, you don't.  So, I'll tell you.  That cheese is our very best seller!  Yes, folks, true, which fact, you would scarcely believe from checking out the customers here.  Perhaps we're dealing with a throwback to childhoods in less enlightened times.  The flavors of mommy's kitchen?  Comfort food?  End of rant.

You have heard about a picture being worth a 1000 words, right?  Well, this little video says it all about the perfect Pesto and the perfect Pasta. Just watch Chef Paolo Laboa prepare both, you'll see what I mean.  So, that was my goal this week.  To do both, perfectly.

All that aside, this very (seemingly) simple pasta dish was quite lovely.  And, I made the pasta twice, improving on my technique and getting the dough thinner.  Next time will be even better, I'm sure.  It was not all that difficult.  There are good video instructions here on rolling the dough out, which the above mentioned chef neglects to completely show us.  Plus, I can see that this will make lasagna a more feasible operation in future  (for me anyway).  Look for it next week.

So, the first thing to do is to make your favorite Pesto.  Having a nice bunch of CSA kale, as well as a bunch of basil, I made a combination Kale Basil Pesto.
In the first video, Chef Laboa makes his Pesto in a mortar to get that beautiful creamy consistency.  I wonder if that is even possible with kale?  At any rate, I tried, switched to food processor, then back again .  It was a bit much, all that parboiled kale, water squeezed out, to fit in the mortar and pound.  Splatting up and out the sides.  You get the picture.


It's okay though.  We liked the consistency, not completely smooth.  I do still want to try his version however. Also, next time perhaps I'll use all pine nuts.  In this I used part macadamia nuts.  Set the peso aside, covered.

Now make your pasta.  I used Ruhlman's Ratio recipe for basic pasta, only substituting some white wine for one of the eggs, as per Laboa.

Basic Pasta
 2 large portions

3/4 cup flour (I used 1/4 cup whole wheat spelt) and the rest white all-purpose
1 egg
2 tablespoons white wine (depending on size of egg)


Watch both videos for best instructions if, like me, you've never done this before.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, with a good tablespoon of salt.  You'll notice I should have used a larger pot.

Put the pesto in a saucepan.  Do not heat.  Slip your cut pasta squares into the boiling water gently, and boil a few minutes.  Ladle some of the cooking water into the Pesto, stir and then slide the drained pasta in.



Plate and sprinkle each serving with more Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.  We both enjoyed the big tender  folds of pasta, dressed with vibrant green, tangy pesto.  This dish goes off to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking.

9 comments:

katiez said...

So they still make those big blocks of 'cheese food'.... Who would've thought....
Your pasta and your pesto both look delicious.

Katerina said...

I know the time and effort it takes to prepare pasta from scratch. I love hand-made pasta and yours with pesto makes an irresisible combination.

Foodjunkie said...

The cheese story is quite a scandal, but somehow doesn't surprise me. I love home made pasta: the taste cannot be beaten. The best accompaniment is always something simple like a pesto, your version sounds enticing.

Claudia said...

I just have a hard time believing anyone would buy it a second time. The taste is so blah.

Elizabeth said...

You really have to admire a Natural Food Store employee for coming up with the response "That cheese is our very best seller". Yikes.

Your pasta and pesto look wonderful. And so does that really beautiful lava rock pestle and mortar! (We like pesto to be a little on the coarse side too.)

Cool idea to use kale. (next time, you might try using this method of getting the water out of greens that we learned from SAVEUR magazine: wash the greens and place them in a colander placed over a bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and toss. Leave them in the colander for about 30 minutes. Squeeze the water out. Rinse and squeeze again.

The salt essentially cooks the greens and they can be chopped without squooshing and splooshing.

Claudia said...

Thanks Elizabeth, I will definitely try that salt and squeeze method.

girlichef said...

Your pesto and pasta are gorgeous!

Nina said...

YUM!! Your pasta and pesto look wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Nina
http://ninas-fantabulous.blogspot.com/

The Food Hunter said...

Great job!