Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade Fettucine and Kale Pesto

Kale inspires me. The beautiful bundles that we receive every week are an invitation to experiment. This week, kale pesto came to mind. The vehicle for this bright sauce? Fresh fettucine. 

There was a time, before Va Beh', when I made pasta from scratch at least once a week. As we prepare to create a menu, including only fresh pasta, for our new restaurant, this recipe reignited our passion and appreciation for the inimitable taste and texture of pasta made by your own hand.  

The pesto is the easy part, so we'll start there. This recipe is an adaption featured by Dr. Weil in his latest cookbook, "True Food". We've tweaked it a bit, but basically, you just boil 2 bunches of chopped kale for three minutes, then immediately drop the kale in to a bowl of ice water, to maintain the bright color. Drain completely. Then, dump the kale, 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tsps of salt and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes in to a food processor or blender until smooth. 

While that marinates in the fridge, you can work on your fettucine. This part of the meal requires a little more brain and brawn. 

For every cup of pasta you would like to make, you will need one cup of flour and one egg. 

Make a well in the middle of your flour. 

Break an egg in to the well. 

Whisk, until the egg is fully incorporated in to the flour.

Knead the dough, once it thickens to the point that you cannot whisk any longer. 

Then, roll out it out into thin sheets. I'd suggest a conventional dough roller at this point, but we didn't have one on hand so we used a heavy bottle of top shelf vodka instead. It did the trick. 

Stop, once your sheet is rolled as thin as possible. 

Then, begin to cut your pasta. 

You can do this free hand. 

Or, you can roll your sheet of dough and slice through uniformly for a faster option. 

Sprinkle each new batch of noodles, as you go, with a little flour to keep them from sticking to each other. 

Don't over-think or try to make this a perfect process. According to Michele, inconsistencies are appreciated by Italian eaters and remind you of the loving hand of the pasta's maker. Once you let go of the idea of perfection, making pasta is so easy even a two year old can do it. 

Your final product should look something like this. 

Now, drop your fettuccine in to boiling water as quickly as possible. Have your pesto and a strainer close at hand because fresh pasta cooks much faster than the store bough variety. Three minutes should be enough time for a perfectly al dente noodle. 

Immediately strain the pasta, reserving a half cup of the liquid to
integrate the sauce and noodle. 

Then, drop your pasta back in to the hot pot and stir in the pesto, gingerly tossing the two together as you would a salad, until the pasta is completely coated with the pesto. Pour in a few drizzles of your reserved water if the pasta seems dry or tacky. The consistency should be smooth and glossy.


And finish with grated Parmesan cheese, fresh pepper and peperoncino. 

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