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Tagliatelle with Pesto

Serves 8 to 10 as a first course



2 1/3 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Pinch Salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil


Enough to dress 1 1/2 pounds pasta

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon pine nuts

2 packed cups fresh young basil leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese

Salt and pepper to taste



For the dough
Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Dump the flour onto your wooden board and crack 3 eggs into the bowl.  Whisk the eggs until the color lightens.  Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil to the well.  Use your hands to bring the flour from inside the wall into the eggs to create a soft dough.  Knead into a ball.
Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll it out thin enough for processing by a pasta machine.  Roll each piece out to the thinnest setting; you may have to cut the dough into multiple pieces as it is thinned, using additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking to the rollers.  Then cut each piece using the fettucine cutter on the pasta machine.  Place the pasta as it is cut on floured towels and set aside.
Or roll each piece of dough into a very large rectangle that is also very thin.  Sprinkle the large square of dough with some all-purpose flour and some semolina flour to help keep the noodles from sticking together when it is cut into ribbons.  Once floured, fold the dough several times so you end up with a long strip of dough that is comprised of 7 or 8 layers.  Using a sharp knife, cut across the strip to make 1/4-inch wide noodles.  Then separate the noodles and shake off the excess flour.  Set the tagliatelle onto floured towels while you work with the rest of the dough.
Alternately use a good store-bought brand of tagliatelle like Delverde if you do not want to make dough.
Bring a large pot of slated water to a boil for the tagliatelle, but don’t start cooking the pasta until you have finished making the pesto sauce.

To make the pesto in a mortar and pestle
Add the pine nuts, garlic and salt in the mortar and use the pestle to pound down the ingredients until they are mashed.  Add the basil leaves a little at a time until they are mashed; add cheeses and oil and combine until a smooth sauce is obtained.  Add a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water to the pesto and mix well.

To make the pesto in a food processor
Place the pine nuts, garlic and coarse salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times.  Add the basil leaves and pulse two times.  With the motor running, pour the olive oil a little at a time through the feed tube and continue processing until a smooth sauce consistency is obtained.  You may need to stop and use a spatula to wipe down the sides of the processor bowl to ensure that all the leaves are processed well.  Add a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water to the pesto and mix well.  You may not need all the oil. 

Transfer to a serving bowl.

Cook the tagliatelle in 4 quarts of salted boiling water until al dente; this will only take a minute or two.  Drain and add the pasta to the pesto; mix to combine and serve immediately.

This recipe is featured on show 2913 – Something Special.


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