Neither K nor I were big fans of Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello when he appeared on Top Chef Masters. Whether through selective editing or just because of his personality, he came across as a jerk with a big ego. However, it was clear the man could cook. The challenge with this recipe (found here) was to create a gluten-free vegetarian meal and make it taste good.
Because neither of us needs (or desires) to live gluten-free and because I have a hand-crank pasta maker that needed a workout, we chose to make fresh pasta instead of using the dried quinoa pasta the recipe called for. I’ve had quinoa before, but never made into pasta so I can’t vouch for its deliciousness. But I can vouch for the superiority of fresh pasta over dried. Fresh pasta is essentially semolina flour and water (and an egg, depending on the recipe). It does take a little time to roll it out and run it through the pasta maker, but you can throw it on a pasta drier or some paper towels or some clean hangers to dry while you’re cutting the rest and then it only takes about 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water until you’re on your way to pasta heaven.
The salsa verde is just fresh herbs (in this case Italian parsley and basil) and olive oil pureed together with some garlic. The herbs and cherry tomatoes (which I oven dried pre-Top Chef night) came straight from my backyard garden and were awesomely fresh. Tossed with the hot pasta it smelled fantastic.
And of course when you think of fresh pasta and fresh herbs you think of … white crackers. We crunched up some white water crackers, pine nuts, garlic and lemon zest and crumbled the whole gremolata mess on top of the pasta and salsa verde.
A.Maze.Ing. The pasta was hot and light and tender. The salsa verde was snappy and green and herby. The gremolata was crispy, nutty and refreshingly citrus. I thought the oven dried tomatoes were too sweet so I gave them to K and enjoyed my gorgeous pile of perfect pasta.
Looking for something to do with your summer herbs? Do fresh pasta with salsa verde. Seriously. Do it now.
(Sorry for the blurry photo. We were in a hurry to eat!)