Recipe of the Week: Pasta with Fresh Pesto
Plant killers, unite: even you can keep a basil plant alive. A little patch of sun and a dash of water are all it takes to keep this fragrant herb blooming in your kitchen, on the porch, or on the fire escape. And this herbaceous herb begs for a little garlic and nutty Grana Padano cheese for a simple, luscious summer pasta.
FRESH PASTA WITH PESTO
1 pound fresh pasta (preferably linguine or spaghetti)
1 cup Classic Pesto (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and add the pasta water. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and gently mix in 1/2 cup pesto.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; add more pesto if desired. Serve immediately, preferably with an Italian white wine like Vermentino or Arneis.
1 pinch coarse sea salt
60 small or 30 large fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons pignoli (pine nuts), lightly toasted
2 tablespoons fresh, finely grated Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons fresh, finely grated Grana Padano
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a mortar & pestle:
Start with salt and few leaves of basil. Crush with a pestle, keep adding leaves a few at a time, then add garlic and pound until the mixture becomes a paste. Add pignoli and work into a paste, then add cheese and slowly pour the olive oil. Work all into a creamy consistency.
In a blender or food processor:
Add basil, salt, and garlic. Work into a paste, add pignoli and slowly pour half of the olive oil. Add cheese and the remaining olive oil. Blend until it becomes a creamy paste.
Makes 1 cup; recipe courtesy Lidia Bastianich