Fresh pasta, especially around the holidays, was a norm in my 100% Italian family. Gnocchi, Linguini, Lasagna and Ravioli were on the table at most celebratory family meals. My mom-mom and her sisters would make fresh ravioli every Christmas and when she passed I was determined to keep up the tradition. Her pasta maker was handed down to me and is by far my favorite cooking tool. It is by no means the most used piece of equipment but it is the most loved. To be honest, I refuse to wash it. It was given to me with bits of flour in the gears and those bits of flour are memories…memories of my Mom-Mom and holidays past that I love knowing are a bit of every new pasta dish I create (don’t worry…i brush it off). In celebration of Spring, enjoy this simple fresh pasta recipe that is perfect for a celebration or any night of the week!
Fresh Pasta with Ricotta, Lemon, Asparagus and Pea Pesto
- 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 1/2 cup peas (blanch in boiled water until bright green then shock in cold water)
- 1/4 cup cold pressed olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 cups fresh, local ricotta cheese
- 1 lemon, juiced
- lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups OO Flour (can be found in Italian Specialty stores)
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 tbsp of water
For the Asparagus: blanch quickly in boiled water (3-4 minutes) until bright green. Shock in cold water. Cut into 2 inch pieces, some halved lengthwise. Hold at room temperature.
For the Ricotta: Mix ricotta with lemon juice and 1 tsp zest, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the pesto: In a food processor, combine the nuts, herbs, peas, garlic and pulse. Drizzle the oil in until smooth. Add the cheese. Pulse to combine and add more oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
For the pasta: Make a mountain of flour on a clean, dry work space. Crack the eggs in the well and beat lightly with fork. Using your hands (of course) incorporate the flour with the until a dough forms. Knead and add flour until the dough is not sticky any more. Add water as needed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to rest (about 15 minutes) Cut into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time (keep the others wrapped) run it through pasta rollers on the widest setting. Repeat, changing the setting to make the pasta thinner. Pass through until you get to the thickness you like – usually #5. Lay pasta sheets on floured counter and cut into squares. Cook pasta squares in boiling water for 4-6 minutes or until tender (cooking time depends on thickness of dough).
To Assemble: Top each pasta square with a dollop of ricotta, some asparagus, pesto and lemon zest for garnish.
Katie Cavuto MS, RD