herb laminated pasta with rocket pesto and eggplant


We are VERY excited to be collaborating with the amazing Unna Birch at @The_Forest_Cantina to bring you some delicious recipes to enjoy with your favourite Jules Taylor wines.

First up she has got some inspiration for a date night at home with this pretty-as-a-picture herb laminated pasta with a rocket and cashew pesto, tomato and crispy fried eggplant. It's delish paired with the JT Sauvignon Blanc. So get your kids in bed early, get some mood music playing, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy...

For the pasta (NOTE: General rule of thumb is 100g flour and 1 egg per person):
200g flour, 00 pasta flour if you have it, regular flour works too
2 free-range eggs
Soft herbs; I used fennel, flat-leaf parsley, borage flowers and thyme

For the tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon brown sugar

For the rocket and cashew pesto:

1/2 cup roasted cashews
120g baby rocket leaves
1 cup grated parmesan
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Lemon juice

For the eggplant:

2 small-medium eggplant
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
il for shallow frying, I used olive oil

To serve:

Grated parmesan
Fresh herbs
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Toasted pinenuts (if you have them)

To make the pasta, measure the flour inside a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the middle, add a pinch of salt and whisk with a fork, then mix together to form a rough dough. Turn out onto the bench and kneed for 10 minutes until the dough is silky and smooth. Cut the dough in half, before wrapping and chilling in the fridge for at least 1 hour. While the dough is chilling you can prepare the other components.

For the tomato sauce, warm the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions with a good pinch of salt until translucent. Add the garlic, and a pinch of pepper and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the tin of tomatoes and the sugar and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium heat and reduce until thick and glossy. About 15 minutes. Once cooked you can either leave it like it is, or I like to blend it with a stick blender so that it is smooth. Set aside for now.

For the pesto, you can make this by hand chopping everything finely with a knife if you do not have a food processor, but I use a processor as it's faster. I start by toasting the cashews in a dry pan over medium heat, to give more flavour to the pesto. Once the cashews are browned, add these to a food processor with the rocket, parmesan, garlic and olive oil. Pulse until everything is blended but you still have texture to it. Taste and season with salt, pepper if it needs it (rocket is peppery, so it might not need it), plus a squeeze of lemon to bring all the flavours together. Set aside for now.

Once the pasta is ready to use, lightly dust the dough and flatten with the heel of your hand so that it is thin enough to begin to be passed through a pasta machine (again, you can do this step by hand using a rolling pin, or a wine bottle - it will just take longer). I roll, fold and re-pass through the machine a few times on the first widest settings - this just helps to get the dough pliable, then you can start making the notch smaller each time you pass it through. Dust very lightly with flour, only if you need it. Take the long pasta sheet and cut it into even lengths, I had four long sheets altogether. On two of the sheets, layout the herbs, making sure you do not add any stalks as this rips the pasta when you laminate it. Lay a sheet over top, and gently press it with your palm to seal it. Carefully pass it back through the pasta machine - I did this on a number 6 setting on mine. You may have to pass through a second time just to make sure it is properly sealed. I found when I went to a number 7 setting, the pasta started to rip, so I stuck to a 6. Repeat until all the pasta is made, then cut into squares and put into an airtight container with baking paper between them so they if not using immediately. Put a large pot of water onto boil, and then salt when boiling.

For the eggplant, slice into 2 cm rounds, then salt on each side and leave on a rack for 10-15mins. While eggplant is being slated, get your breading station ready; put the flour in one bowl and season with salt and pepper, the eggs, beaten in another bowl and the panko bread crumbs in another. Make sure your tomato sauce is hot, your pesto is ready and your garnishes are good to go too, and have a tray lined with paper towels next to you for the eggplant to go once it's cooked. When the eggplant is ready, pat each one dry on both sides with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture, then coat in flour, then the egg and the crumbs. Heat enough oil in a pan to shallow fry, over medium-high heat, and when hot, gently fry until golden on both sides. Drain on the paper towel line tray when done.

While the eggplant is frying, cook the pasta in batches in the boiling water for 4 mins, scooping out the pasta into a bowl when done. Toss the pasta in a little olive oil and some of the pesto, and repeat till cooked.

To serve, place some pasta down first, then some eggplant, tomato sauce, the pesto, a little grated parmesan and repeat the stack. Garnish with grated parmesan, olive oil, a little sea salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Pour a glass of chilled glass of Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy!