Monday, June 1, 2015

Fresh Pasta with Browned-Butter Basil Lemon Sauce

Now that's a mouthful! This past weekend, I purchased two large bunches of fresh basil to add to the Italian sausage marinara sauce I made to go with a pasta dinner we had for a church dinner. Basil is my most favorite herb. I love the stuff.

Then, in the evening, I watched a Netflix documentary called "Chef's Table." The first episode was about an Italian chef and his restaurant and life with his family in Modena, Italy. Italian food is my favorite. Watching some of the chefs in his restaurant rolling out the fresh pasta by hand reminded me that making fresh pasta is not too hard, and the results are delicious.

With my left-over fresh basil and the documentary as my inspiration, I decided to make some fresh pasta with a delicious browned butter sauce, adding a touch of lemon (from the lemons in my parent's yard), a touch of cream (leftover from all the cake baking and frosting making as of late), and all that delicious fresh basil.

Making the fresh pasta dough is not difficult, and the hand-kneading is strangely satisfying. When you're done hand kneading, you have produced a very smooth, satiny and supple dough. It feels great in your hands.

The dough just takes a few ingredients (flour, eggs, olive oil and a pinch of salt) which most people have on hand. I also happened to add a Tbsp of gluten (because I have that on hand, and I was trying to add more protein to my flour to make it more similar to semolina flour--high protein flour-- that pasta is traditionally made of). I guess I could have used bread flour instead of all-purpose too. I kneaded my dough for about ten minutes to get that smooth, satiny dough. I then formed it into a disk, wrapped it up tight in plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge for about an hour and a half. You're supposed to leave it in the fridge for at least an hour.

There are plenty of recipes for fresh pasta on the Internet; I tried this one from Anne Burrell, but modified it by adding a Tbsp. of the gluten powder as previously stated. I wanted a nice al-dente pasta with a toothsome bite to it. It is not noted in her recipe, but in making pasta, the eggs should not be straight from the fridge. They should be room temp, or if you're like me and don't want to wait for them to come to room temp, you can put them in a bowl of warm water for a minute or two.

My sweet hubby gave me a pasta roller as a gift a few years ago, so I hauled it off the pantry shelf and put it to work. I rolled it out to the number 6 thickness setting, and using the attachment the pasta roller comes with, I cut it into linguini noodles. I used the fresh pasta (meaning I didn't dry it) in making this, but I had enough pasta to dry some for later. I also froze some little nests of fresh pasta for later too. I guess I like experimenting.
The dough after it has rested in the fridge
Cutting off a managable size of pasta dough

that small hunk of dough rolled through machine on each setting (starting at 0, then 1, 2 etc.) until I get to "6" on the machine; then I place it in the cutting roller of the machine to make the linguine noodles

little pile of fresh pasta ready to be cooked

If you don't want to go to the trouble of making fresh pasta (which you really should try at least once), go ahead and used packaged pasta. This sauce is delicious and might just have you licking your plate at the end of dinner.

You should use about a half a pound to 3/4 pound of fresh pasta for this recipe of sauce, and that should feed about 4-5 people. The sauce is fresh and zesty from the lemon and fresh basil. It is rich in flavor without being heavy. The saltiness of the Parmesan cheese perfectly seasons the pasta and the browned butter leaves a subtle nutty flavor. When my pasta was gone (and all too soon I might add), I wiped my bowl clean with my broccoli. Not quite my finger...I was trying to have some semblance of sophistication. My daughter, however, licked her toes, not her fingers. Oh to have the flexibility of a two year old.

I already can't wait to make this again. It will definitely be a staple this summer. That's when that frozen pasta will come in handy.

The pasta will only take a minute or two to cook once the salted water is boiling, so make the sauce first. But make sure you have your salted water boiling so the noodles cook quickly and the sauce doesn't get cold before you toss the noodles with the sauce.

Browned-Butter Basil Lemon Sauce

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. minced shallot (or onion)
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1-2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into thin strips

lay a stack of basil leaves on top of each other

roll the stack of basil leaves up

slice thin strips off the roll of basil leaves

1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup (or more to taste) grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
more basil to garnish

1. Place the butter, olive oil and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the butter melts. 

2.Then add the minced shallots. Cook the shallots in the butter mixture until soft. Add the basil. 

4. Cook and stir until the butter begins to brown (about five minutes). It might get a little foamy while cooking. This is normal; turn down the heat if it gets too foamy. After the butter mixture is light brown, remove from the heat. 
the butter has turned a toasty brown and smells faintly nutty

5. Stir in the cream, lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta, adding the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and additional basil while tossing. Serve immediately. 

toss the noodles, sauce, cheese, and extra basil with tongs


This definitely satisfied my craving for fresh delicious pasta with a tangy, flavorful rich but light sauce. I don't know if I should use the word "satisfied" though, as I'm already looking forward to my next bowl-full. Let's say that it satisfied my craving, but created a monster of new future cravings. Yup, that fits.


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