The Reluctant Blogger

Dark Days Week 11: Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
February 26, 2011, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Dark Days, Pasta, Vegetarian

My basil plant, which has been going strong in my windowsill since late summer, is beginning to go. It’s dropping leaves on a fairly regular basis and nothing seems to make it rebound. I’m a bit sad about this, since it means I won’t have any basil for months, but I guess I should just be happy that it has done as well as it has for so long. So, instead of sitting by and letting it slowly die, I’ve been trying to use basil frequently so that at least I’ve made the most of it when it does finally give up. This pasta was really just an excuse to make pasta and eat a bunch of basil. Had I been thinking I could have thrown some vodka into the sauce, but seeing as I made and ate this before noon (I’m not a breakfast person – I’m trying, but I don’t love breakfast and often on days I’m at home, I just eat lunch a bit earlier than may be considered normal), maybe that omission was for the best.

Homemade Pasta for One with Tomato Cream Sauce
For the pasta:
1 egg
4 ounces of flour
pinch of salt (I use sea salt)

Combine the egg, flour, and salt. I like to use a food processor and pulse the dough until it resembles small peas. (Although our doughs are slightly different, Tea has a good tutorial with pictures of what the dough should look like. She also has helpful pictures of how to make the dough by hand or with a stand mixer.) If your dough is too dry, add water a few drops at a time, just until the dough resembles small peas, but be careful – if the dough ends up too wet, it will be really hard to work with later. When your dough is ready, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for an hour or so to rest. You don’t have to let it rest, but I’ve found it easier to work with when I am patient. And you can let it rest more than an hour – I often make my dough a day ahead and leave it in the fridge overnight.

After the dough has rested, remove it from the fridge, put water on to boil, and assemble the sauce.

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp cream
5-6 dried tomato halves, roughly chopped (my tomatoes are more like semi-dried. What you’d find at a store may be drier – if your tomatoes are fairly dry, you may need to rehydrate them first or increase the quantity of cream. You want them to break apart fairly easily when combined with the cream.)
10 leaves basil, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of salt

Stir all of the sauce ingredients together (you may want to reserve a little basil for a garnish) in a small saucepan over low heat until the sauce is warmed through but not boiling. You’ll probably need to stir the whole time since it’s such a small quantity and you don’t want it to stick to the pan. A small spatula comes in handy for this.

When the sauce is warmed through, turn off the burner and roll out your pasta. I have an Atlas hand-cranked machine that was a gift from my aunt and uncle and I love it. Apparently you can roll the pasta out with a rolling pin, but I’ve never tried that. If you’re making fresh pasta, chances are you have a pasta machine and know how to roll your pasta out already; rather than giving redundant instructions, I’ll send you back to Tea if you need a tutorial. I like to use the ribbon setting to cut the pasta, and my preference is for pasta rolled out to setting 5.

By the time you’ve assembled the sauce and rolled out your pasta, your pasta water should be boiling. Put the pasta into the water and cook it briefly. Depending on the size and thickness of your pasta, this can take only 30 seconds or a few minutes. I like my pasta fairly firm, so test the pasta frequently and as soon as it is cooked to your liking, drain it and mix it with the warm sauce. Garnish with reserved basil and a sprinkle of parmesan and eat immediately.

Sources for this week’s meal:
Flour from Montana as in past posts (making progress through the stash, but lots left!)
Eggs from Mountain View Farm, Belfair, WA
Cream from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Lynden, WA (by way of Full Circle box)
Roma tomatoes from my garden, oven-dried and frozen
Garlic (mild French) grown by my father-in-law up the street
Basil from my windowsill
Exceptions: salt, parmesan


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