Discovering that I could make fresh pasta will probably remain one of the highlights of 2010, even though it happened on the third day of the year. I don’t know if you regularly eat fresh pasta, but it is so much better than dried (and it cooks much faster!) that I think there’s absolutely no reason not to try it.
Although I’m not particularly well-versed on all the Italian pasta terminology (is that a pile of fettuccine? linguinei? unclassifiable because there’s no consistency in the widths?) I do know that those noodles you see right there were GOOD. Yes, they were uneven, but lets be real, I cut them up with a pizza cutter, and I really didn’t care how even the widths were, I just wanted a vehicle for some pesto I had recently made.
Pesto and fresh pasta are both divine, this is true, but I upped the ante a little with some roasted cherry tomatoes, because for me the only way to eat cherry tomatoes (other than straight off the plant) is to toss them with some olive oil and sea salt and roast them for about 20 minutes in a 375 F oven. Then of course the whole thing needed to be sprinkled with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I’m going to go ahead and give you the fresh pasta recipe (adapted from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver), even though I posted it recently, because it’s just easier that way.
2 cups flour
3 whole eggs
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (give or take, depending on your preferences) pesto
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
First, make the pasta.
Whisk together the flour and a few pinches of salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and crack the eggs into it. Using the fork, whisk the eggs without mixing in any flour until they’re smooth and yellow.
Once the eggs are beaten, mix them with the flour. When it becomes too thick to stir, turn the whole thing out onto the counter and knead for about 8 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about half an hour.
(This can be done up to two days ahead of time – just knead the dough until it’s smooth, then wrap tightly and store in the fridge until you’re ready to roll it out. Flour your work surface and a rolling pin.)
While the pasta is resting, make the tomatoes. Toss the tomato halves with olive oil and a few big pinches of sea salt. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and put them into the oven, checking after 15 minutes (the total time will depend on their size). You want really wrinkly skins that are beginning to look very dark in places. Pull the tray out of the oven and set aside.
Roll the pasta dough out into a large rectangle so it’s less than 1/8″ thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut it into long thin strips (how thick is up to you) and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (you should have at least a gallon of water going). Drop the pasta in a few strands at a time, stirring so they don’t stick together. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain but do not rinse, then return them to the pan (off the heat) and toss with some pesto.
Divide into pasta bowls, and sprinkle some of the roasted tomatoes and grated parmesan on top.