Friday, October 19, 2018
Cooking

Everyday Entertaining: Fresh pasta and pesto are a great way to say thank you

One way to say thank you is with a card.

Another way to say thank you? Homemade pasta.

Recently, I had a few friends I wanted to thank with more than a card, and thought it might be nice to do so by making them dinner. But I was about to head out of town, so instead of having them over I made something they could enjoy while I was away. A dinner party from afar.

It also provided a great reason to get one of my favorite wedding gifts out from its spot in a higher-up kitchen cabinet, the one I have to get on a stool to reach. I have to really want what I'm reaching for, and in this case it was the pasta maker attachments for a KitchenAid mixer. I used to have a dedicated pasta-making machine that needed to be cranked with one hand while the other fed the pasta through the roller, but it broke on a night I was planning to make three lasagnas.

The attachments I have now are a bit sleeker and make easier work of smoothing out eggy dough into long, flat noodles that I've since layered into many lasagnas. The other attachment pieces in the pack cut the fat noodles into spaghetti or fettuccine, though this could also be done by hand with a sharp knife.

Making pasta is a labor of love but still a ton of fun. So I spent a couple hours on a recent morning enjoying the extra legroom of my kitchen before I boarded a long flight to the West Coast that evening.

Fresh pasta starts with a mound of flour on a clean counter. Then, I press the bottom of my measuring cup into the peak of the flour mountain to create a well. Eggs go into the center with a pinch of salt. A fork helps to break up the sunny pool of yolks and gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs until a dough starts to come together. Then I knead, push, pull and press until the flour has absorbed the liquid of the eggs and the shaggy dough becomes a pliable ball.

While the dough rests, it's time to make a fresh pesto that will later coat the noodles for a simple dinner.

Pesto can be made from just about any hard cheese, nut and greens or herbs, but my current favorite is a pistachio pesto with mint and basil I previously shared in the Times for a pizza. You can find the recipe at tbtim.es/1905 .

Once the pesto is scooped into a jar, it's back to the pasta. After cutting the noodles into fettuccine, I lightly dust them with flour and twirl them into loose nests. Wrap them in plastic wrap and they're ready to pack into a gift bag.

Pairing the pasta and the pesto makes a fine gift. But if you're really going for it and want to enthusiastically say thankyousoverymuch, tuck in a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a Microplane grater along with the bundles of noodles and jar of pesto in a small gift bag. Write the instructions for cooking the pasta on a pretty recipe card or thank you note. Make sure to let your recipient know that fresh pasta takes just a couple minutes to cook, and include notes for storage of any leftovers.

A ready-to-cook dinner like this would also be a sweet gift for friends who just had a baby or a friend who needs some cheering up or a night off from making dinner.

Ileana Morales Valentine can be reached at [email protected]

     
Comments
What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

A recent trip to upstate New York provided the perfect excuse to try the renowned chef’s restaurant, and a once-in-a-lifetime meal.
Published: 10/17/18
Recipe for bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Recipe for bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Enjoy a taste of the Big Easy with Bourbon Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce.
Published: 10/17/18
From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

This bright, vegetable soup was inspired by a recent farm meal.
Published: 10/16/18
Five ideas for recipes to celebrate National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day

Five ideas for recipes to celebrate National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day

Food holidays may be silly, but these fall recipes sure aren’t.
Published: 10/16/18
After more than two decades, Davis Islands' 220 East still brings its A game

After more than two decades, Davis Islands' 220 East still brings its A game

220 East on Davis Islands is a rarity, a restaurant that has stood the test of time but still ably caters to local tastes.
Published: 10/15/18
Taste test: Pumpkin spice cereal

Taste test: Pumpkin spice cereal

Our panelists spent a lot of time this season sampling pumpkin spice-flavored foods.
Published: 10/15/18
Never made fresh pasta before? You donít know what youíre missing

Never made fresh pasta before? You donít know what youíre missing

This is usually how it goes on pasta night: You grab a box of Barilla from the pantry. You debate how much spaghetti to pour out, ultimately overestimate and drop a large handful of stick-straight noodles into a pot of boiling water. Maybe you spent ...
Published: 10/10/18
For a nutty, risotto-style dish, reach for the farro

For a nutty, risotto-style dish, reach for the farro

Italian farrotto is essentially a risotto-style dish made with farro in place of the usual Arborio rice. Although it is made with a similar method, farroís more robust, nutty flavor gives the dish new dimension. But because much of farroís starch is ...
Published: 10/10/18
From the food editor: Tahini brings new flavor to cooking

From the food editor: Tahini brings new flavor to cooking

Sometimes, you discover an ingredient and wonder, "How did I ever go so long without you in my life?"For me, that ingredient is tahini. Okay, I didnít really discover it; I discovered Molly Yeh, a blogger and cookbook author who Iíve written about be...
Published: 10/09/18
Crispy, convenient black bean taquitos you can make at home

Crispy, convenient black bean taquitos you can make at home

By Joe YonanI knew and loved taquitos long before I tried one from 7-Eleven, where they rotate along with the hot dogs (and plenty of grease) on that roller grill. At the Tex-Mex restaurants of my youth in San Angelo, Texas, they were called "flautas...
Published: 10/08/18