Fettucine with Rosemary, Roquefort & Lemon

August 17, 2009

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance…
~William Shakespeare, (Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is derived form the Latin for ‘dew of the sea’, a reference to its pale blue dew-like flowers and the fact that it often grows near the sea. Native to the Mediterranean basin, rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant and silvery evergreen-needle leaves.

Sprigs of rosemary have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 3,000 BC. Ancient Greek students would wear garlands of rosemary or braid rosemary into their hair in order to enhance memory, thus leading to rosemary being dubbed the “Herb of Crowns.”

Recent research has even suggested that rosemary contains an ingredient that fends off free radical damage in the brain. This active ingredient, known as carnosic acid (CA), can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration that is due to toxins and free radicals which are thought to be one of the contributors to stroke and conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The leaves of this strongly fragrant herb possess a pungent flavor that is a cross between lemon and pine which is why it marries well with lemons.

This delicate, summer fettucine can be made with dried pasta, but fresh is much preferable. Consult the post on Basic Pasta Dough (06.10.09) for both machine and hand made pastas. For your convenience, I have repeated the machine method below.

FETTUCINE WITH ROSEMARY, ROQUEFORT & LEMON

Sea salt

1 lb fresh* or dried fettucine or tagliatelle

3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3 T Roquefort cheese, room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed

3/4 C reserved pasta cooking water
Grated nutmeg to taste
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 T fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced

Freshly ground pepper
Parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated

In a medium glass bowl, combine the butter and Roquefort by mashing with a fork, adding lemon juice along the way. Set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat and add a liberal amount of sea salt. Cook fresh pasta until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. For dried pasta, follow the cooking directions on the package. Drain the pasta through a colander, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.

Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the mixture of butter, Roquefort and lemon. Toss gently until pasta absorbs the mixture and then slowly add the cooking water by spoonful until the pasta is evenly coated. Season generously with pepper, then add nutmeg, lemon zest and rosemary. Toss again, lightly grate with parmigiano-reggiano, and serve.

*Basic Pasta Dough (with machine)

Attach the flat beater to your stand up mixer, then add half of the flour mixture and the eggs, turning to a low speed and mix 30 seconds. Add the rest of the sifted flour mixture and mix an additional 30 seconds, adding sprinklings of water as needed. Variables such as humidity, temperature, egg size and gluten content of the flour will govern water needs.

Note: To test for correct consistency, pinch a small amount of dough together after mixing with the flat beater. If it stays together and not gluing to your fingers, the dough is in good shape. It may be necessary to adjust by adding flour or water to reach the proper harmony.

Exchange flat beater for the dough hook. Again turn to a low speed and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, until a dough ball is formed. Remove dough from bowl and on a lightly floured surface hand knead for a couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic with a slight hint of stickiness. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap to prevent a dry skin from forming. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before dividing, rolling and cutting.

Divide the dough, but cutting into 4 pieces, wrapping 3 of them in plastic or covering them with a towel. Flour the dough very lightly then flatten until it is about 1/4″ thick. Set the rollers of the the pasta machine to the widest setting. Feed the dough into and through the machine with your hands. As the flattened dough comes out of the machine, retrieve it gently with your open palm. Avoid pulling the sheets of dough out of the machine; instead allow the pasta to emerge and support it lightly with your hand. Fold the dough into thirds, flatten it slightly with your hands and roll it through again and repeat this process 4 or 5 more times.

If throughout the process the pasta sheets become become too long to work with, cut into two pieces and continue.

Set the rollers to the next thinnest setting and lightly flour the dough, but do not fold. Pass the dough through the machine on each progressive setting until the dough is at desired thinness (usually the next to last or last setting). Repeat the entire process with the remaining pieces of dough.

Let the dough rest on towels or a floured work surface. Use machine to cut into desired fettucine strands.

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