Pasta blog

Great pesto video at chow from SF’s Tablehopper. This has been around for a while and others have written about this particular chef’s pesto.  But if you haven’t seen it and love to cook, please watch the demo.  What I love are all the finer points the chef, Paolo Laboa, makes—how he finds the right basil…he soaks the basil…imports the right kind of pine nuts…recommends using a neutral oil rather than olive if you don’t have the right olive oil…how his sentiments on taking time and cooking from the heart would sound cliché were they not so simply and genuinely stated…the oddness of adding white wine to the pasta dough…cooking it in single sheets (love that).  Very very fine glimpse of a thoughtful articulate chef.  Now, if only summer would get here.

Recent view from my office window:

Until the warm weather arrives, you can at least make your own pasta.  Here’s a delicious egg yolk pasta that’s fantastic with a little butter and regianno and if you don’t feel like waiting for summer or locating a basil grower who would live up to Laboa’s standards—then don’t.  Go out and buy some grocery store basil and get out your mortar and pestle, make some pesto and know that summer will be here before you know it.

2 cups of all-purpose flour (or “00” flour if you have a good Italian market nearby)
7 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for angel food cake or meringue)
1 large egg
1 ounce water (or per Laboa, white wine!)
½ ounce olive oil

Dump the flour into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir the ingredients into the flour using your fingers until it all comes together.  Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead just until it comes together (you can sprinkle with a little water if it’s not coming together).  Press it together into a rectangle about an inch thick.  Cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes and up to an hour or refrigerate for 24 hours.  Cut into three equal pieces and roll each out, making a couple of passes through each thickness.  Roll to the desired thickness—I usually stop at the penultimate setting.  Cut into sheets and cook in perfectly seasoned boiling water.  Serve with butter and grated regianno or Laboa inspired pesto.

This will make a little more than a pound of pasta, good for four and the sheets can be wrapped in plastic and frozen then boiled straight from the freezer when you want them.


35 Wonderful responses to “Dreaming of Summer: Sheet Pasta with Pesto”

  • NYCook

    One of my earliest memories is rolling out pasta with my grandmother. It’s one of the things that has inspired me to do what I do. To this day there is something about making pasta that just relaxes me…The Zen of pasta making we call it. Note to anyone who wants it if you have a left over braise that you are looking to use in a new application, braised items make great ravioli filling… do raw egg yolks on a bed of ricotta, but as they say thats another post

  • carri

    Warm weather does seem like a distant memory! That basil pesto is great and all, but here we know summer has arrived when the nettles take over the yard…they make amazing pesto…no basil required!

  • Rhonda

    Michael, my favorite 7 yolk recipe (technically eight yolk I guess), yay! I use wine as well. However, I don’t add wine to the pasta, I add wine to the cook.

    I second the braise idea for filling. A friend of mine once used Moose meat. He called it Ravioli Moosulini.

    Thanks for another fantastic DT Ruhlman photo.

  • ruhlman

    nycook, i’ve talked to more chefs than i can name who say they’re number one favorite thing to do in the kitchen is make pasta.

    And yes, left over braise with pasta is great. I worked at a restaurant where we shredded the left over osso bucco and spread it on a long sheet of pasta (cooked) and rolled it up then simply sliced on the bias and slid into the oven with braise liquid on pickup.

  • Erik

    I was given the pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid for Christmas, and have been hooked ever since. Particularly addicting are Keller’s agnolotti. Wow. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of my agnolotti get small cracks in the freezer, as if the filling is expanding as it freezes. There’s little to no water in the filling, so I thought I’d maybe just let them dry on the counter a bit before freezing to firm up the dough. But if anyone has any other suggestions, I’d be all ears.

    Viva la pasta.

  • blowback

    Dump the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients.

    Why make a well in the center if the flour is in a bowl? I can understand making a well if you are mixing flour with liquids on a flat surface, like a table top, but why in a bowl?

  • Sean Kelly

    That is so great.
    My chickens are laying (thanks electric light!) so this is on the menu!

  • Elise

    The KitchenAid attachment is so wonderful, I use it on rainy days to liven me up. For Thanksgiving, made the pasta using my chicken’s eggs, beef stock and meat from my husband’s cattle and ended up with the best beef and noodles.

  • Laura

    god I cannot wait for spring! That’s interesting about the wine…I’ve actually never added anything other than eggs to my flour, per the ladies from River Cafe Cookbook…but I shall certainly be giving it a try!

  • Vivian

    Nice pasta sheet.

    @ blowback. I use a bowl too for the sole purpose of easy cleanup and the same rules of pasta making still apply.

    @ M.R. I am truly envious of your office view. I have a beautiful corner office with large bay windows but my view is of the Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. pipe boneyard and a filling station. I will however say that view was marred this week by the rotation I watched develope as the tornado sirens were blaring all around us. We were safe however as that thing dropped about 10 miles north of us. God I love being in Tornado Alley never a boring moment!

  • Natalie Sztern

    My office window looks onto a rainforest…yes, it is true even tho I live in Montreal…it is a rainforest all year long and if i could download a pic i would…it is the only indoor rainforest in the city…complete with a rainfall each nite and a bird in the air….NOW y’all can be envious just like I am on how you all know how to make fresh pasta!! And i’d much prefer a thanksgiving like Elise had….

  • Natalie Sztern

    I think in another life I was a chef who couldn’t cut it in the kitchen….hmmmm…why else would this blog leave me in awe of every comment?

  • Canice

    Just last week a friend told me I’d never enjoy pesto again if ordered up Farina’s. Now this. *Sigh* Must go in next week and imagine summer.

    I love Marcia (“The Tablehopper”) but I would like the words “transformative” and “unctious” officially banned from all food description from here on out. Would that be OK?

    PS: carri – nettles in summer? They are strictly March/April here in the Bay Area…then gone. Almost time for “St. Pat’s” cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, a happy nod to early spring.

  • Michael Franco

    This photograph of a silken pasta sheet is so beautiful I can almost taste it.

    The leftover meat from braised lamb shanks (a Valentine’s Day dinner) will rest perfectly on a bed of homemade pasta.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Michael.

  • kayenne

    @blowback, i believe it is to be able to slowly combine the solids into the liquid. otherwise, you’d have a terrible time forming the dough, ending up with a glob of goo – lumpy. kinda like when you dump a can of campbell’s condensed cream soup into a pot of boiling water and then trying to get the lumps out.

    Michael… the chef paolo explained why wine was used… but couldn’t quite catch the word… any idea? how does it affect the pasta?

  • Shaun

    I was seduced by that vibrant green pesto in the chow video to make this recipe last night – came out fantastic. I will never buy pasta again, and I very much enjoyed the rolling process!

    I didnt get the basil to come out as vibrant as Farina’s – it of course was not genoa basil, and i used trader joes pine nuts – not the imported variety 😉 What can ya do.

    Thanks for the great post Michael and for continually posting great ideas, thoughts, wisdom, photos, encouragement, and recipes!

    (And, of course, thanks Donna for the fantastic shot!)

  • Maura

    Has anyone here made pasta entirely by hand, i.e. without a machine? I don’t have a machine or the Kitchenaid attachment, and won’t be getting either any time soon.

    I’ve already conquered puff pastry, so I’m not afraid of the rolling pin.

  • Rhonda

    Hi Maura.

    I did.

    Not because I didn’t have a machine but because I wanted to. I wanted to experience how the Grandmas of the world made pasta and all of the books that said “put it in your mixer with the dough hook attachment…” started to piss me off.

    I truly believe that we need to know the original technique in order to appreciate the end product.

    You will need more time to do this. It is not the end product you are looking for, it is the process.

  • Maura

    Rhonda, you pretty much stated how I feel. Thanks. I’m going to try it. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t come out right the first time.

  • Alpana Lath

    The first and only time I made pasta sheets by hand, people were shocked that such a thing was possible. There was wonder, as if up until then, everyone had thought dried pasta grew on trees…

  • Sara

    I’ve rolled out pasta by hand. It takes longer and mine ends up a little think since I don’t have a lot of patience but it works out just fine.

  • Maura

    Thanks Sara. I have all the time in the world, so the amount of time it takes isn’t a problem. I just worry about getting it thin enough.

    Time to break out the rolling pin.

  • Louisa Edwards

    Ohio is rough, man. This winter seems like it’s going to last forever, no matter what Punxatawney Phil said. And now I’m craving fresh pesto!

  • Kristin Ohlson

    I think I detect my dog and myself in that photo of the view out your office window– we often walk past your house. She’s white, she blends in. I’m quite white too.

  • Dick Black

    This pasta uses quite few eggs. I recently watched Bittman’s PBS show and he and Batali were in Italy making pasta with an older Italian woman who did not use eggs.

    This surprised me. What is your take on this ? Apparently both Bittman and Batali thought the results were extraordinary, given the sauce was oil and salt. No eggs in the pasta.No cheese. I get the cucina povera thing.

    I think Bittman and Batali were just being nice to the old woman. Both looked like they could use a bit of cheese.

  • Scotty j

    Can you elaborate on the term “perfectly seasoned boiling water” Do you use tap or filtered? What seasonings besides salt? How much salt?

  • Vivian

    @ Scottty j. Water for pasta should taste as salty as the sea. I usually use a large stockpot(about 12 quarts)and fill it about 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil and add 2 or 3 palm fulls of kosher salt. Taste the water if you do not get a salty flavor from it add a little more salt.

  • chrisp

    how is the texture of this pasta recipe? with no kneading of the dough (batali usually calls for 10 minutes of kneeding), is there enough texture of it is one dimensional?

  • chat

    Very cool app. Can you tell me where to download the Help files? Apparently they didn’t make it during the install process, so it won’t load them. Thanks!