As summer turns to autumn, we begin the transition from the lightness of summer fare to the heartier dishes that will take us comfortably into the cooler days of autumn. With fresh basil still growing in the garden and the first squash of the fall coming in, this dish is as perfect as the season changes. Loaded with carotenoids from pumpkin and pantothenic acid from the olives, this isn’t just pasta, but an aphrodisiac.
Makes 4-5 servings
1 pound fresh pumpkin fettuccine (recipe follows)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon umeboshi or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
2 teaspoons white miso
1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted, left whole
1 ripe tomato, diced, for garnish
Mound flour onto a dry work surface. Make a well in the center of flour and add salt, oil and pureed squash. Mix gradually, kneading into a smooth, soft dough by drawing small amount of flour in from the edges as you knead. Add more flour if the dough seems too sticky or more water if it feels too dry--but in both cases, add small amounts very slowly so as not to jeopardize the quality of the dough. Continue kneading until dough is a soft, workable ball, about 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Cover kneaded dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes (but you may hold pasta dough for up to 2 days in the refrigerator). When ready to prepare dough, divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 1/8-inch thick sheet. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut noodles into wide fettuccine strips with a knife or pasta cutter or run through a pasta machine to create fettuccine. Lay noodles on a dry kitchen towel for at least an hour before cooking or you can drape the fettuccine over a drying rack and dry completely for 1-2 days.
Make the pesto. Bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly dip the basil leaves into the water. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Add pine nuts and pulse to begin pureeing the nuts. Add oil, vinegar, rice syrup and miso. Puree until smooth, adding a small amount of water to thin the pesto, if desired, but do not thin too much. It should be like a paste.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta al dente, 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Fresh pasta dough will not take as long to cook as dried pasta, so keep your eye on it during cooking or it will get too soft. Drain well, but do not rinse.
As soon as the pasta is cooked, toss with the pesto and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with olives and diced tomatoes.
Cook’s Tip: You can make pesto the traditional way by grinding it into a coarse pesto in a mortar and pestle-which is my favorite method. Give it a try.