The year was 1921, the place Ellis Island. My maternal grandmother, single, arrives into port from Napoli on the ship Patria to be with her sister...
Celebrate summer with Basil Orecchiette with Garlic, Oil and Lemon Zest. One of the best use of the basil grwoing in you garden during the summer.
3 Oz Fresh Basil
2 1/4 Cups Semolina Rimacinata Flour
2/3 Cups Tepid Water
*With the addition of the basil you may not need all this water as the basil will make the pasta dough a bit more humid. Always add your water little by little until you get the right consistency.
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic sliced
Zest of 1-2 lemons (you can make it as lemony as you like!)
1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
To make the dough:
Place the basil in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
On a clean work surface make a well in the center of the semolina and add the basil. Start adding the water little by little (a few tablespoons at a time) Begin to mix with your fingers, trying to incorporate the basil as much as possible and catching any water that tries to escape from the sides.
Keep adding the water while trying to form a uniform ball of dough. The dough will be crumbly at first but will begin to come together after about 5-7 minutes of kneading.
Once you have obtained a uniform ball of dough that no longer sticks to your hands, keep kneading with the heels of your hands for an additional 7-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft but firm enough to hold an indentation. The end result should feel somewhat like play-dough. Humid to the touch but not sticky. If the dough feels too wet dust it and your work surface with extra semolina. If the dough feels too dry add a teaspoon of water at a time and knead it through.
To make the orecchiette:
Cut the dough into 10 pieces and roll one piece at a time into a 1/2 inch rope. While rolling keep your fingers together and spread them apart to lengthen the rope.
Cut out 1/4 inch pieces from the rope and with a serrated edge knife, with the blade facing away from you (like the Nonna Knife!) press down on the piece of dough with your left index finger on the tip. Drag the piece of dough towers you while applying moderate pressure. Keep the dough on the edge of the knife and turn the piece of dough inside out over your left thumb so that the rough side is exposed.
Place the orecchiette on a cotton cloth making sure they're not touching one another.
Drop the orecchiette into generously salted boiling water. These will take about 4-5 minutes to be al dente. Always taste your pasta!
After the pasta has been cooking for about 2 minutes start to make the sauce.
Put a heavy 12 inch skillet over a medium flame and heat the oil.
Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve.
With a large scoop or a strainer, scoop out the al dente pasta and add it to the skillet. Sauté in the garlic and oil for 1-2 minutes.
If the pasta looks a bit dry add the reserved pasta water and toss.
Add the lemon zest and toss for 30 seconds.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese allowing the residual heat of the pan to melt it. Serve in warm bowls.