On a hot summer day, who wants to spend lots of time in the kitchen, at least not at dinner time when the heat of the day has invaded every pore. Not me. But I do love to cook, and have to find ways to get my fix without a lot of fuss. My solution? Making pasta early in the morning, letting it dry throughout the day and cooking up a quick meal in about 15 minutes when I get home from work. When I saw my basil dusted with fennel pollen, since it is growing beneath the 5-foot feathery giant, I had an ideaHerb pasta!! You never know where inspiration will find you. I found the first-of-the-season tomatoes at the farmer’s market. How wonderful to see the heirlooms starting, and a perfect combination with the herbs. I love the foods of summer!
Summer Herb Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes
Prep time: 1 hour
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon fennel flowers*, or 1/2 teaspoon dried fennel pollen
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-3 tablespoons water, as needed
1 tablespoon coarse cornmeal or semolina flour
*For the fennel flowers, I simply held the umbrel with one hand and gently stroked the flowers into the bowl of the processor.
In a food processor combine 1/2 cup flour with garlic and herbs. Process until the herbs are finely ground. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, eggs, and oil. Process until throughly combined. Pinch the dough together with your fingers to see if it holds together. If it does not add a tablespoon of water and process, testing again. Dump the mixture out onto a floured work surface and knead until you have a nice smooth ball, 2-3 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to rest. Divide the dough into 3 portions and roll with a pasta machine or rolling pin to the thickness you desire. I like mine on the 5th option on the pasta machine. I’m sure all machines are different, so you be the judge. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces with a knife or crinkled cutter and lay out on sheet pans that have been dusted with cornmeal. You can cook it immediately or dry for a few hours. I then place it in plastic zip bags and store in the refrigerator for a day or two or freeze for up to a month.
To cook: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook for 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pasta. Taste for doneness.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced garden fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the oil, tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl. When the pasta is cooked add to the bowl and toss.