Fresh pasta goes with anything (including straight-up butter) but this bright and zesty Spinach and Herb Pesto is one of my favourite toppings.
If you’ve never made fresh pasta, you might be surprised how easily it comes together. You don’t need a pasta machine—but rolling the dough by hand takes a bit of muscle. My chef instructors at culinary school maintained that pasta tastes best when made with a rolling pin (the theory being that the grain of a wooden pin imprints subtle indentations in the pasta, thereby allowing more sauce to stick). We rolled our dough with wooden dowels until our arms ached—but most cooks rely on a hand-crank pasta machine that clamps to the counter. Or, if you’re spoiled (like I am) a standup mixer fitted with a pasta attachment.
Pasta can be made in advance but pestos are best made fresh as their flavours diminish with time.
Serves about 4
■ 1 recipe for Fresh Pasta (See Mushroom Ravioli)
■ 2 1/4 cups finely chopped spinach
■ 2 1/4 cups chopped parsley
■ 3 Tbsp lemon juice, about 1 lemon
■ 1 1/2 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (use more if you enjoy heat)
■ 1 ½ 1 tsp finely minced garlic
■ 3 anchovies, rinsed and finely chopped
■ 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
■ 3/4 cup mild vegetable oil, such as grapeseed oil, plus more as needed
Follow the instructions for fresh pasta —up to the point where it is rolled into sheets 6 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick.
If you don’t have an attachment, dust the (6-inch x ⅛ inch) strips generously with flour and fold the dough over, every six inches or so accordion fashion. Using a sharp knife, cut into fettuccine layers into ribbons about ¾ inches wide.
If not using the pasta immediately, dry on parchment paper dusted with flour or drape over racks (or chair rungs protected with parchment paper). Or, fashion into little nests and dust with flour to prevent sticking.
Store leftover uncooked pasta between sheets of parchment in plastic freezer bags. Refrigerate for up to one day or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Frozen pasta needs no thawing, but it will take about a minute or two longer to cook.
Makes About 1 1/2 Cups
Combine the spinach, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, garlic and anchovies in a small bowl and mix well. Alternatively, toss everything (but the nuts) in a food processor and purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the chopped nuts. Taste and season with additional salt or lemon, as desired. Drizzle with additional oil if you prefer a looser mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
Toss the fettuccine into a large 6-quart pot of rapidly boiling, generously salted water for a minute or two. Reserve about a cup of pasta water. Carefully remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of pesto. Thin the sauce with a bit of pasta water as needed.
Serve on warmed plates.
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