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It’s pesto

Fresh basil has such a strong, wonderful fragrance.  It fills a room with its aroma and just begs to be put into some amazing dish.

Liguria is a region in northwestern Italy where the most famous basil is grown under DOP conditions (denominazione d’origine protetta, a set of standards protecting the integrity of the basil and its terroir, similar to cheese or balsamic vinegar).   Not surprisingly, it is here we find the birthplace of Pesto Genoese.  Made with a mortar and pestle, basil is pounded with pine nuts, garlic and then mixed with plenty of cheese and olive oil.  The Italian word for crush is pestare – pesto being a derivative.

Many years ago, I visited a friend who lives in Genoa.  The taste of pesto on the small, twisted pasta called trofie is something I will never forget.  Trofie was not a pasta I had seen before, not even in Rome.  But for locals there are only two pasta shapes for pesto, trennete or trofie.

Making a fresh pesto, which can be frozen (by not adding cheese) or stored in the refrigerator with a little layer of olive oil as a preservative (for about one week), brings a rich, wonderful flavor to pasta dishes but also can be a flavor enhancer to main courses.

This is an easy recipe because it just requires blasting everything in a food processor or good blender.

It’s pesto

Fresh basil has such a strong, wonderful fragrance.  It fills a room with its aroma and just begs to be put into some amazing dish.

Liguria is a region in northwestern Italy where the most famous basil is grown under DOP conditions (denominazione d’origine protetta, a set of standards protecting the integrity of the basil and its terroir, similar to cheese or balsamic vinegar).   Not surprisingly, it is here we find the birthplace of Pesto Genoese.  Made with a mortar and pestle, basil is pounded with pine nuts, garlic and then mixed with plenty of cheese and olive oil.  The Italian word for crush is pestare – pesto being a derivative.

Many years ago, I visited a friend who lives in Genoa.  The taste of pesto on the small, twisted pasta called trofie is something I will never forget.  Trofie was not a pasta I had seen before, not even in Rome.  But for locals there are only two pasta shapes for pesto, trennete or trofie.

Making a fresh pesto, which can be frozen (by not adding cheese) or stored in the refrigerator with a little layer of olive oil as a preservative (for about one week), brings a rich, wonderful flavor to pasta dishes but also can be a flavor enhancer to main courses.

This is an easy recipe because it just requires blasting everything in a food processor or good blender.

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Ingredients

Recipe serves: 8
2 cups fresh basil, washed and roughly chopped
optional: 3 cloves garlic, skin removed (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romana
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt to taste
garnish
few sprigs of fresh basil leaves
Serve with pasta
Your favorite pasta
1/4 to 1/2 cup Mascapone or Ricotta cheese
(optional) Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese
(optional) Fresh tomato sauce
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thoughts&stories

 

A note: Italians estimate about 100 grams or about 4 ounces per person.  A one pound box serves 4 people or a 500gr bag 4 people.  But if serving as a starter, you may want the portion size to be slightly smaller.  I often measure out the pasta (since shapes differ) onto the plate that will be used to “guess-timate” the right amount.  You also need to consider the heartiness of the sauce and determine if more or less should be served – lighter the sauce = more, heavier a little less.

 

 

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It’s pesto
  • time
    25 min
  • serves
    8
  • skill level
    Easy

Ingredients

  • garnish

  • Serve with pasta

Directions

1
Done

Optional

On low heat, add about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sauté pan and cook the garlic until translucent. Set aside.

2
Done

Pesto

Add the basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor, and then put in the other ingredients including the garlic but do not put in the salt. If you plan to freeze the pesto, do not put in the cheeses until you defrost.

3
Done

Mix until you have a nice, smooth paste, it should only take a minute. Add salt to taste.

4
Done

Add your preferred pasta shape to the water. Set timer for 7 minutes but test pasta after 5 minutes.

5
Done

Strain pasta in a colander and put back in the saucepan, or in large saute pan if heating pesto.

6
Done

Add pesto and coat pasta in the sauce, add a bit of the pasta water to loosen and bind the sauce to the pasta.

7
Done

Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mascapone or ricotta cheese with pesto and a bit more of the water.

8
Done

Serve in individual bowls or family style in a large bowl. Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese, a sprig of fresh basil or fresh tomato sauce, click here for tomato sauce recipe .