chipotle ziti with red pesto

When I finally made the decision in my thirties to get married (late in life compared to some), I was quite specific with who I wanted as a partner. Sometimes life is funny and takes who you want and gives you instead, who you need. I met my husband and shortly afterwards I tried to impress him with a pasta dish. He was quick to critique it. I was annoyed but was then excited in finding out he is an Italian.

Italian was on my list…

For the past nearly eight years we have been together, there has never been a pasta dish he hasn’t had to “help” cook. He is irritatingly particular about the shape of the pasta, the type of flour and the texture of the noodles. I am always trying to perfect my pasta to finally assure him I can be trusted with his precious plate of heritage. Once and for all.

In comes a unique recipe. I thought of this before Father’s Day, sent out three options to the internet for people to vote on and this pasta was the winner. I use a Philips pasta machine though for our wedding we were gifted a hand-crank machine. This makes things easier when time really is important (weekdays, especially). There are two types of Philips machines, the large family version which has a lot of noodle attachments and the one I have made for a couple. Its slim profile makes it easier to move around than most other kitchen gadgets you’ll own and most of it is dishwasher safe.

This pasta was a gamble but it paid off.

You will need:

  • A pasta machine
  • Flour (whole wheat or semilina is best)
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • Chipotle seasoning (dried, I use Mrs Dash salt-free)
  • Basil (both dry and fresh)
  • Dill (dried)
  • Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Grated parmesan
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Pine nuts
  • Cashews
  • Olive oil
  • Blender
  • If you’d also like, micro greens

Depending on how many you are feeding, you will use either one egg for one pound or two eggs for two pounds. There are plenty of places online that will even teach you how to make your pasta for the exact amount of people you are feeding. I start with the pesto so you can have that done and set aside as fresh pasta takes no time at all to cook.

Red Pesto:

Please understand, as with most of my recipes, you will taste as you go – you will need to decide if you have enough pesto for the amount of people you are serving. I like having leftovers so I always make more than I need. You can put pesto with anything.

In a blender, put roasted red peppers (I used half of the bottle pictured below), washed basil (quite a lot – impossible to measure this as each package has a different amount of leaves), pine nuts (I used the entire bottle pictured below), cashews (two handfuls), dill (this will be to taste), about a half cup of parmesan (you can always add more cheese later) and 1/2 – 3/4 cup of olive oil (I tend to add just a bit more later to help thin it out when I add it to the pasta). The olive oil is needed so, if you see the blender struggling please add more oil.

Blend and taste. You may decide you want salt, more red pepper, etc. This is where you can make the pesto your own.

Pasta:

Create your flour and egg mixture – the Philips pasta maker has all the measurements and tells you exactly what you need (including water). Take the chipotle and dried basil seasonings and put it with the flour, add as much as you think you can stand. We love both of those flavors and can handle the seasonings. I wanted to make sure the chipotle flavor especially, would come through in a dish that also has a pesto with a lot of flavor. I press a button on my machine and it does all the work. If you’re using the hand-crank machine, you will see the gorgeous flecks of the basil and chipotle come through the machine and can use any attachment you like.

The noodles should be al dente. If ever a pasta noodle is too soft I will hear about it in two seconds! I have learned that you undercook the noodles just a bit if you’re mixing with a sauce that needs to be heated. After straining the noodles, add the pesto and any additional oil or cheese you think your dish needs. Chop up your parsley and add it to the pasta.

When serving, I added micro greens to the top.

This pesto was used again today in a salmon dish. You will need to thin it out, just so you know. Cashews are a great way to thicken a lot of things (I love them in soups for this reason) but, I noticed the pesto needed to have some time on the stovetop to turn back into something I could work with.

Below you will find products used. Nutribullet blender. Le Creuset pot in lavender. Philips pasta maker. Plate from Crate and Barrel in Great White.

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