Homemade Basil Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and More Basil

My friend Kelly and I wanted to make bruschetta today so we asked my dad if we could raid his homegrown basil. My father doesn’t just have an herb garden by the window. He dedicates two thirds of our dining room table to growing his own basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and now, hot chile peppers. He uses special hot pink LED grow lights for his little herbal infatuation and what he produces are the bushiest, biggest, almost mutant-like herbs and peppers. His basil is no exception.

When we went up to snag some my dad said “It’s either all or nothing” and forced us to butcher his entire crop. We were left with a conundrum — what the heck do we do with all this basil?

Make green pasta, ff course. And top it with more basil. Double of course!

We came up with the brightest green pasta, tossed it with a creamy sauce and then topped it with cherry tomatoes. Amazing!

And here’s how we made it.

Ingredients

For the Pasta:
3 cups flour
3 eggs
3 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
3 tbs. olive oil
water

For the sauce:
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. Wondra flour, or regular flour
salt and pepper
chopped cherry tomatoes
chopped basil

To make the dough:
Add the flour, garlic powder and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil, eggs and oil and start processing. Through the little tube in the top, start slowly pouring in water until a rough ball of dough forms. Turn on to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, incorporating more flour if it’s too sticky. What you should end up with is a smooth, elastic dough. Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 30 minutes or so.

Set up your pasta roller. If you do not have a roller then this is going to be a long cooking job for you and I recommend putting your dough in the fridge and driving to a store that sells a pasta roller.

Using lemon-sized balls of dough, run it through the largest setting, folding it over itself and adding more flour if necessary. This kneads the dough for you. Make sure the dough isn’t sticky at all during this process. Fold the dough on itself and run it through this setting about seven times. Now start adjusting the rollers thinner and thinner, running the dough through once each time till it’s as thin as you prefer. I like setting 6 on my roller.

Flour each sheet of pasta on both sides and set on a cookie sheet. Repeat with lemon-sized balls of dough till you’ve rolled out all the dough.

Set a large pot of salted water to boil.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil and add the pine nuts, stirring frequently, till they are lightly toasted. Add the chicken stock, cottage cheese, salt and pepper, flour and Parmesan cheese stirring rapidly until it thickens. Turn heat to low.

Meanwhile, run your sheets of pasta through the cutters. I like the fettucini setting because the vermicelli can be stickier sometimes. If your pasta sticks together a little, just separate the noodles when they’ve gone through the cutter and dust with flour. Collect on a tray.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir to make sure noodles don’t stick. Cover the pot till it boils again and then cook the noodles for about 30 seconds. Test a noodle. It should have a bite to it. Before draining the water, reserve about 1/2 cup of the noodle water and add it to the sauce.

Steaming pile of noodle

Drain the noodles and immediately transfer to the saute pan. Turn the heat to med-high and add the tomatoes and chopped basil. Toss till the noodles are well coated and the tomatoes cook a little bit, about 3 minutes.

Enjoy all the hard work you put into making a delicious meal. You deserve it!

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