My sous-chef took over the kitchen last Sunday. Wow! I am so impressed with the chewy al dente handmade pasta, crunchy breadcrumb topping, and creamy pesto sauce; all made from scratch! A very hearty and satisfying dinner indeed. Here’s the much cherished guest post from Hanna.
One of the things that I learned since working from home with my parents is that we all have terrible work life balance 😭. To reward ourselves for all the hard work, my parents decided to plan a road trip to Seattle. It gave us a chance to take a much-needed break, get a breath of fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful summer views that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
On our way back from Seattle, we stopped by Portland, which has a pretty impressive food truck scene.
Ashley kept raving about a food truck called Gumba that we HAD to try. I’m not usually huge on pasta, but their instagram  had some of the most aesthetically pleasing pictures of pasta I had ever seen. One thing that stood out to me was the combination of textures they incorporated in their dishes. Chopped nuts, toasted breadcrumbs, chili flakes, pasta shapes I had never seen before — I was inspired. I wanted to make my own handmade pasta (the more imperfect the better) with homemade hazelnut pesto, crumbled sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and toasted herbed breadcrumbs.
The Handmade Pasta
To make the pasta, I simply followed this recipe with no modifications: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_homemade_pasta_without_a_pasta_maker/ 
When rolling out the pasta, please make sure to make it paper thin. My pasta ended up too thick and was too stiff to give me a nice fork twirl. It just gave me a nice splatter of pesto sauce all over my white t-shirt 😅.
The Herbed Breadcrumbs
To make the breadcrumbs, I followed this recipe with no modifications:
The Hazelnut Pesto
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- In a food processor, add the basil, hazelnuts, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
- Start blending and slowly add in the olive oil. I wanted my pesto to be chunky since I’m all about texture. I chose not to over-blend the pesto so that I could have some nice chunks of hazelnut in the sauce.
Putting It All Together
- The handmade pasta
- The homemade pesto
- The herbed breadcrumbs
- 1 lb uncooked sausage (Any type of uncooked sausage that you can remove from the casing and crumble will do. I recommend Trader Joe’s uncooked chicken sicilian sausage.)
- 1 bag of spinach (Throw in as much as you’d like! I used about 4 oz.)
- 10 oz sliced white mushrooms
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- Ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Remove the sausages from their casings into a large pan. No need to add additional oil since the sausages will release their oil as they cook. Crumble the sausage in the pan and cook until the sausage is slightly brown and no longer raw. Remove the cooked sausage but save the oil in the pan.
- Using the oil from the sausage, cook the mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender and slightly brown. Remove from the pan.
- Start boiling a large pot of water. Generously salt the water. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta to the pot. It should take about 5 mins but may take more or less time depending on how thick the pasta is.
- While the pasta is cooking, continue making the sauce. Melt the butter in the pan.
- Add all the pesto to the butter. When combined, add the milk and stir until smooth.
- Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Add the cooked mushrooms and sausage back into the sauce. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.
- When the pasta is done cooking, add the pasta to the sauce and mix until the sauce is evenly distributed and the pasta evenly coated.
- Plate the pasta and scoop a large spoonful of the herbed breadcrumbs to sprinkle all over the top.
And that’s it! Feel free to skip the handmade pasta if it’s too much work. I’d say the sauce itself was a winner 😊!