Pesto

Inspired by the parent’s trip to Italy. I made the recipe exactly as stated and it was delicious! The fresh cheeses and basil together were perfect. I served over pasta one day and as pesto mayo on a sandwich another.

Step 1

For 2 cups of Pesto alla Genovese, you will need:

• 2 and 1/2 cups tightly packed basil leaves

• 1 peeled garlic clove

• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

• 1/3 cup freshly grated grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and olive oil until a thick, creamy paste forms. Do not overprocess or the basil will darken and oxidize and lose its lovely fresh scent.

Step 2 

Turn the paste out into a bowl.

Grate the Pecorino and Parmigiano with the fine holes of a box grater. (Freshly grated cheese has much more flavor than cheese that is bought pre-grated; if at all possible, try to grate the cheese yourself just before using it.)

Step 3

Using a fork fold the grated Pecorino and Parmigiano into the basil paste in the bowl.

Step 4 

The basil pesto is ready. Refrigerate, covered with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil, for up to 3 days (although it tastes best when freshly made).

If you would like to freeze pesto, do not fold in the grated cheese(s) in Step 3. Place the cheese-less pesto in a jar and pour a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil to cover the top; this prevents air from penetrating. Freeze up to 1 month, then defrost before use and fold in the grated cheese(s) when you are ready to serve.

Step 5 

When you are ready to serve, place the pesto in a serving bowl and bring to room temperature.

Cook 1 pound of fresh or dried pasta (enough for the amount of pesto the recipe above yields). I suggest potato gnocchi, trenette, linguine, or tagliatelle, or, if you can find them, trofie (small, twirled gnocchi from Liguria).

Just before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Fold as much of the reserved pasta cooking water into the pesto as needed to give the pesto a fluid, coating consistency about 1/2 cup should be enough, but more may be needed depending on the sort of pasta you are using).

Stir in the pasta and serve hot. Serves 4

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