Homemade pasta is fantastic. Homemade basil pasta is nearly a religious experience. This very simple basil pasta has become a staple in our house since I got my pasta roller about a year ago. My husband says it’s the best pasta he’s ever had outside of Italy. There’s a bit of a time commitment on the front end, but once you get that out of the way, you potentially have a dinner that can be ready in about the amount of time it takes to boil water. First, the pasta!
3/4 c packed fresh basil leaves
1 t olive oil
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 T water
Place washed basil in a food processor bowl and pulse until the leaves are finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil to create a coarse pesto type consistence.
At this point, you can go the traditional route or the lazy way (I always choose the lazy way). The traditional pasta dough method involves mounding the flour on a counter, making a well in the center of the flour, adding the egg and basil, and mixing together. If you go this route, than that’s exactly what you’d do, adding the water as you knead the dough to get the desired consistency. I’m lazy. So I put the flour, basil, egg, and about 1 T water into my electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix until the dough forms a stiff dough – you will likely need to add the remaining tablespoon of water to bring the dough together. You may not, you may need to add more. Just feel the dough. It should be smooth and elastic, but in no way sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few more times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes or so. This step is not optional. The dough needs this time to rest for the gluten strands to relax and form the proper consistency. If you don’t rest it, your pasta will suffer the consequences. After the rest, roll the dough using your pasta machine to your desired consistency. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can roll sheets very thin using a rolling pin and elbow grease and cut noodles using a pizza cutter. You can dry the noodles over a hanger for a few hours or cook right away. Boil the noodles in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Basil pasta that is so delicious it tastes like summer in a bowl. We like to serve this pretty bare – just a drizzle of good quality olive oil and some Parmesan cheese over the cooked noodles and you’re set. No reason to bury the light flavor of the noodles in a heavy sauce.
Some tips and tricks. When basil is coming in our CSA hot and heavy, I like to make lots of this dough. I make several batches at a time. Then I divide it up into serving sized balls of dough. I wrap these in plastic wrap and freeze them for several months. That way when it’s cold, we can still get a taste of summer. Just thaw the ball and roll at your leisure. If I’ve got time, I’ll also roll 4-5 batches at a time and freeze servings of the already rolled noodles in individual plastic containers. Then all you have to do is drop the frozen noodles into the boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes. I made enough of this dough last year to provide us with basil pasta a couple times a month through the winter. We actually ran out of dough just in time to start getting basil in our CSA again!