Sunday, 20 March 2011

Straccetti col mio pesto (Home made pasta with pesto)


So much basil in the shops, so many herbs, nuts... the inviting smell of Summer round the corner... Today, no choice! I had to fill my trolley with colourful, sweet smelling "goodies!" I was in the mood for trying new things!

At home, my mother cooked excellent traditional Italian food from our region. I like to extend my horizon, and by this, I don't mean Chinese, Indian or whatever else, but... Italian, from a different part of the country, as food in Italy differs from region to region. Let us remember that Italy, until 150 years ago, was not a nation, but a kind of congregation of eight neighbouring States, each of which had their own entity, language and, of course, culinary traditions.

You could trace the social history of Italy, through its food. Today I "went" to Liguria. The food of Liguria tends to be green, as, especially inland, the people of this region use a lot of very often wild herbs and vegetables which can be picked in the country (though, of course, they DO have supermarkets in Liguria!)

I made pesto for the first time and... WOW! Is it good or... is it good? It truly is delicious, unlike the store bought stuff I tasted a few years back, which put me off wanting to try it again. Actually, I made pasta, too! And I am NOT a pasta maker! But STRACCETTI (little rags) seemed so quick and easy to make, I decided have a go at making it.

My pesto was a bit different, as I used basil, some rocket and walnuts, instead of pine nuts. The end result is pungent and really, really good!


(Serves 2)

For the pesto:
About 30 gr basil leaves
a handful rocket leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 small garlic cloves
2tbsp olive oil
a small handful of walnut kernels
1 large handful Parmesan cheese
black pepper

For the Straccetti pasta

150 gr plain or 00 flour
1 egg yolk
warm water
some salt
extra flour for dusting

I made my pesto in a pestle and mortar, by pounding the garlic cloves with the sea salt first. I then gradually added the basil and rocket leaves, followed by a gradual addition of the olive oil and the walnuts, a few at a time. When all the ingredients were used and combined, I added the grated Parmesan and had a taste: if you can describe a taste as "Vivid", that's how it tasted to me! Fantastic combination. I'm sure I was smelling the Ligurian countryside! Quite likely!

Honestly, don't ever buy the stuff in jars: it's really smelly and drab looking. Having made my own, I can tell you... it's really, really delicious! And so easy to make!

Now you are ready to make your Straccetti (home made pasta squares.) I am not a pasta maker... just a pasta eater, but today I wanted to try, as Straccetti is really easy to make.

I used plain flour (or 00), just 1 egg yolk, some warm water and some salt. I made a well in the centre of the flour, placed my egg yolk in the middle, followed by some salt and warm water. I then made the mixture into a dough (if it's not firm, add more flour.)

 (Flour and egg yoke)

(Beginning to look like pasta dough)


I used my pasta machine to roll out the dough into longish strips, which I then cut into squares . You can roll the dough out using a rolling pin, if you wish.

                         (My pasta strips ready to be cut into straccetti)                       

I cooked my straccetti in a pan of boiling water, with some salt, for about five minutes. I drained my pasta, quickly combined it with my very good home made pesto and garnished with a sprinkling of Parmesan, black pepper and walnuts. That was it! Done! I had a taste and yes... it's buono, buonissimo!