Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pesto Pasta Genovese

Ivy Manning’s Farm to Table Cookbook is due back to the library soon. I love this book! I am frantically looking through the recipes trying to decide what to make before I return it (I already renewed it twice). Last night I needed a quick dish to feed my family, and found the perfect thing: Pesto Pasta Genovese.

I know, pesto is probably coming out of you ears, along with the zucchini, but I can’t get enough. What I love about Ivy Manning’s take is that she recommends making it in a mortar. It seems like I have been hearing that a lot lately: Grind your pesto by hand. I learned that the word “pesto” comes from the Italian word for “pound,” so that makes sense. And cooks swear that it tastes better. I pulled out a stone mortar that until now has served as a decorative piece and went to work.

It is, without a doubt, the best pesto I have ever made. It took longer than in a processor, and left me with a stiff forearm, but was worth it. There is nothing like working for your food to really appreciate it! The pesto was a bit “chunkier” than normal, and the flavor just burst forth. The addition of green beans and potatoes (both of which are in season now) was the perfect touch.
I served this with Insalata Caprese with fresh garden tomatoes. Even my meat-loving husband loved this vegetarian meal (hence his inclusion of a photo of the well-cleaned plates.)

Here’s her recipe, my additions in parenthesis.

Pesto Pasta Genovese

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 pinch sea salt
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled
(1/4 cup toasted pine nuts)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
Salt and pepper
1 pound Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 ounces dried fusilli or trofie pasta
½ pound thin green beans, stem ends snapped off.

1. Remove basil leaves from stems, do not wash.

2. Place small handfuls of leaves in stone mortar with salt and lemon juice. Smash and grind the leaves against the bottom of the mortar, gradually adding more leaves.

3. When all the leaves are smashed, slice the garlic in half and remove green shoot tip. Add to mortar and smash. When the mixture is smooth, add the pine nuts (if you are using them).

4. Add oil gradually. Then stir in cheeses salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Put potatoes, 2 pinches of slat and enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.

6. Bring another pot of water to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook until it’s almost done, about 7.5 minutes. Add the green beans and cook another minute. Drain. Gently toss pasta, potatoes, and beans with pesto. Serve hot or room temperature.

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