Semolina flour, used for pasta making, adds a nice, mellow texture to the pasta dough and EVOO pulls the dough together. Semolina flour provides elasticity in the dough and less breakage. Pasta dough needs to be kneaded and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to relax the dough before using. With those notes made, I would like to add how the dough and I did battle for about an hour before the dough decided to pull itself together . . .Do not be afraid to add moisture if the dough is too dry. For some reason, dryness was an issue this evening. The dough finally held together, relaxed and I was allowed to roll it through to the right thickness. Pasta dough usually is not hard to make. I was already tired and started later in the evening . . . contributing to undertone grumblings . . . BUT the end result was delicious!
The recipe I used came from the La Cucina Italiana website. The food magazine published from Italy (called La Cucina Italiana) is authentic Italian fare with amazing articles, breath-taking photos of food and countryside along with tips and instructions to help anyone create homemade Italian food in any kitchen. Very user friendly!
little lasagnas with tomato, fresh mozzarella and pesto
3/4 c. farro or semolina flour plus more for dusting
1 lrg egg
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for pasta water, baking sheet and lasagnette
Fine sea salt
2 c. packed fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for lasagnette
2 walnut halves
1 t. pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 T. club soda
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t. tomato paste, preferable double concentrated
8 fresh basil leaves
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T. unsalted butter, melted
In a small bowl, mound flour and form a well in the center. Add egg, oil and pinch of salt to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then transfer dough to a lightly dusted work surface and knead until dough forms a complete mass. Knead, dusting work surface with flour as necessary, for 2 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
Fill a small bowl with ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil; add basil leaves for 15 to 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer leaves to ice water. Let sit 1 minute, then drain and squeeze water from leaves using a clean towel.
In a blender or food processor, puree basil leaves, oil, cheese, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, club soda and generous pinch of salt and pepper until smooth. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Chill for 1 hour.
FOR TOMATO SAUCE:
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 20 seconds; drain, peel, seed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Heat oil, butter, onion, garlic and generous pinch of salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, basil leaves and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook until sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning.
Cut pasta dough into 2 pieces; rewrap one. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.
Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until sheet is about 16 x 5 inches (if dough feels wet, dust with flour). Cut pasta into 4 (4-inch) squares; discard scraps. Lay squares 1/2 inch apart on a dry baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and 4 pasta squares; Cook for 2 to 3 minutes after water returns to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to ice water, then to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining squares.
Pat pasta dry. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil. Put 4 pasta squares onto baking sheet. Dollop half of tomato sauce onto squares. Dot with half of fresh mozzarella. Dollop 1 teaspoon pesto on top of each square, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pinch of salt and pepper. Top with remaining pasta squares.
Drizzle lasagnette with melted butter and a touch of oil (you will have leftover ingredients) and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to serving plates. Top with remaining tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and drizzle of pesto (reserve leftover pesto for another use); garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.