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Friday, June 21, 2013

Silk Handkerchiefs Pasta with Pesto Genovese

There are moments when I am deciding what to cook when I feel like I have to do something incredibly traditional, something extremely old-school, and when I get it right, for me, it’s an incredible accomplishment. 

This recipe is truly without the shadow of a doubt one of the great classics and, although this type of pasta may not be used on a big scale such as spaghetti or tagliatelle, it has an incredible elegance and beauty to it.

If you want to try this, I beg of you, do it all yourself: the pasta, the pesto, create it from scratch, don’t cut any corners by buying lasagna strips of pasta or canned pesto, trust me, the result will be worth it.

For the pasta, I used 250 grams of type 000 flour (for reasons beyond my understanding the 00 type has gone missing from stores) 1 egg and 2 yolks. The process of working the dough is the same as before, the difference being that the resulting dough will be more compact, robust and with a silkier feel (and also, more yellow). 

Be careful though, the pasta can be rather heavy on the stomach, so be prepared with some good, chilled Soave Clasico. You want to roll your dough until it is thin enough to be blown of the table. Just try and blow under the pasta sheet to see if it lifts; if so, that’s the thickness you need (in case you’re using a pasta machine, roll it up until the 9 mark). Take your pasta sheet and just break it into tiny squares, in a handkerchief like shape (or just cut it like that, breaking it is more fun), and boil it in salted water for 2-3 minutes, that’s all it takes.

For the pesto: 90 grams of basil leaves, 30 grams of pine nuts (toasted), 1 garlic clove, 70 grams of grated Parmiggiano, salt and good quality olive oil (I used the unfiltered kind for my pesto). Put the washed and dried basil leaves (be careful with them when washing, make sure you let them dry and not try and force the leaves, they lose their flavor like that) in a large enough mortar and start crushing them with a circular move with  a pestle, for 1 minute. Add the garlic and pine nuts and keep crushing them with the pestle until the garlic is nice and mashed in the pesto.

After this, add the cheese and crush some more, adding olive oil in the end to bring everything together. The amount of olive oil used should be enough to bind the ingredients and not take over the basil or be in such a quantity that the pesto is submerged in it. 

Regarding the salt, you can go 2 ways: use some coarse salt when adding the garlic, it will help you crush the ingredients better, or, if you’re scared you’re going to go overboard because of the cheese being also salty, wait until the end and added it there. 

So, a superb classic Italian that, for me at least, brought a very nice feeling of accomplishment when completed, hope it does the same for you.

Have a great weekend,
Mr. G.

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