For some time I’ve been thinking about two things – that are food related, that is – my brain is usually thinking about 1,000 things not food related. The first is basil infused dough and the second is homemade pasta.
I wanted to make a bread that had the herb flavoring all the way through without the leaves of the herb. Obviously the leaves of basil are fine in dough, but I wanted something that would infuse the taste of basil all the way through the bread. Since dough uses water, I thought I’d try and infusion of fresh basil leaves in water for my dough.
Where does homemade pasta come in to this?
I didn’t feel like making bread.
Of course, pasta dough uses egg. And of course, I didn’t have any because I never plan ahead. So I decided to make eggless dough.
I boiled my water and added the basil.
Lovely green water. Did you know that basil is from the mint family? When you make an infusion you can smell the mint.
Wait for the water to cool down to a tepid temperature.
In the meantime put two cups of flour in a bowl and poke a little hole in the middle. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil into the hole.
When the water has cooled, slowly add ¾ cup of the infusion and mix them slowly together.
Continue to add the water and mix. Eventually you’ll have to use your hands, but what’s better than getting your hands covered in flour?
When the dough has mostly come together, take it out of the bowl and on a floured surface, knead away for about 10 minutes. If it’s too dry, add a little more of the infusion. If it’s too wet, add a little flour, but it should be a firm ball. Whatever that means to you.
Set aside in plastic wrap or a covered container for 20 minutes. I put mine in the refrigerator because it was only 4:30 and dinner wouldn’t be for another 3 hours. You’ll have a lovely floury mess on your counter. Keep it there, because you’re just going to mess up your counter again when you roll the dough out.
So the thing about this is, I don’t have a pasta machine. Cutting strips of spaghetti is way too time consuming, not to mention way too difficult given my inability to do anything in a straight line. Therefore I took the easy way out. I decided to make ravioli. But what to put in the ravioli?
How about caviar d’aubergine?
Aubergine = eggplant. Caviar d’aubergine is really easy to make and has nothing to do with fish eggs.
- Peel your eggplant, slice thinly.
- Peel some garlic, mince.
- Heat up a pan with some olive oil.
- Put in your garlic and eggplant, season with salt and pepper, add a cup of water or two.
- Once it’s simmering nicely, lower the temperature to minimum and cover.
- Let the eggplant and garlic simmer and cook down for about an hour until it’s completely soft and mushy, and most of the water is gone.
Of course by then it was only 5:30 and I still had two hours. So I set it aside.
That meant I could enjoy a glass of wine.
When it’s time for dinner, or you just can’t wait anymore roll out the dough to be as thin as possible – ravioli thin to be precise. Use a quarter of the dough at a time if there’s not enough work space or if this is the first time making ravioli and you have to go slowly because you have no idea what you’re doing. Keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
I’m not going to lie. It took me over an hour to put these raviolis together, and all the while I was thinking “They aren’t thin enough. They aren’t the same thickness all the way through. This dough isn’t going to take.”
I also pulled a muscle in my back rolling out the dough.
I had a margarita while putting them together.
It fogged up my camera lens.
I wasn’t sure of the cooking time, as they were pretty thick, so I left them in the water for 11 minutes. In reality, they could have probably stayed in the water for another 2 minutes, but what are you going to do. A few of them fell apart – like raviolis do, but there were plenty for the two of us, so it didn’t matter too much.
Topped with olive oil, fresh basil and cheese.
While the husband was well pleased and once again told me I needed to open a restaurant, I’m not going to brag about how great they were. They were good, but the dough definitely needed to be thinner. With a rolling pin I did the best I could.
So I discovered a few things. One: I really need a pasta roller machine. Two: egg, while it gives a taste to pasta dough, isn’t necessary. Since these were raviolis, the lack of egg was covered by the eggplant, cheese and olive oil. Three: I didn’t infuse the basil long enough. Or maybe I should have added basil into the dough. Who knows? I’ll try it again another time, but at least my raviolis were a moderate success. And I got to make a huge floury mess all over my kitchen.