What to say,
we are overwhelmed by the response we are getting on our little website!
Many emails are coming in, please do not take it personal if we are not able to respond right away…
we did not expect this project to blow up so fast, and we already have to improve our server capabilities and probably the website itself will undergo some upgrades.
For the time being! Deb and I would like to THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
time to get going with our fourth episode!
Today you will learn to make the best and freshest pesto ever. Just one thing before we start: even if this dish does not require cooking, preparation time is longer then other (sometimes more complicated) dishes.That’s because you need to wash the basil, pluck the leaves, grate the cheese etc…BUT, the result is stunning, and at the end, it’s a very easy recipe.
Also make sure you keep an eye on the salt factor (Pecorino cheese is very salty) and how much oil you end up using…Even if olive oil is one ofthe most important ingredients in Tuscan cooking, that does not mean you have to drawn your pasta in it!!!
Get you apron, your dish rag and put some cool music on, choose your bottle of wine…
May I suggest a Bruzzico, from Fattoria Malenchini in Bagno a Ripoli, Florence.
Serves: 6 (enough for 1 lb of pasta) / Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: Cook al dente according to direction on pasta box
- 4 cups of fresh basil leaves (about 4 oz)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup of pinoli (pine nuts), toasted
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Romano
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: (Matteo’s Variation calls for 1/2 lb of sliced cherry tomatoes)
1Using a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, combine the olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and garlic and blend until a paste forms.
2Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses, and pulse until smooth.
3Season with salt and pepper to taste(be mindful that that the cheeses are salty).
4 Keep covered, air-tight, in the fridge until you’re ready to use it; this will prevent it from oxidizing and turning dark.
5 Cook the pasta…and please, cook it well; al dente !!!
6Grab a half cup of boiling water and set it aside into a cup. When ready, drain the pasta, and pour it in a bowl. Add the pesto and start stirring the sauce; use the hot water, adding very little at the time, to help the pesto dissolve around the pasta.
7Serve garnished with some grated parmesan or pecorino (just a touch), fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of olive oil.
THE MATTEO VARIATION
Matteo is one of my dearest friends. We grew up together, spending most of our free time cooking and enjoying our common passion for any two wheeler(ie:mountain bikes, cross bikes and race bikes).
Since we were 15, we used to jump on our off roads bikes and race up in the woods, with our backpacks loaded with sausages and cheese to grill on the spot. Then we grew up, and we got in to race bikes. We started visiting restaurants very far from Florence. Today we’re into mountain biking, probably a sign of our ecological conscience.
Well Matteo’s grandmother is from Genova, so I never questioned his pesto variation; it’s delicious! I guess it’s a matter of genes, as I never encountered this dish anywhere else.
Matteo once surprised me, adding some sliced cherry tomatoes, it adds freshness that you’ll hardly encounter anywhere else!
Discussion about pesto:
Pesto is one of the freshest and healthiest sauces for pasta…you can use your own basil if you have it, or buy it at the store.Prepare the pesto the same day you buy the basil. You can save pesto in the fridge for a couple of days before using it (place it in a small bowl and cover with ¼ inch olive oil to prevent it from turning dark). Old basil does not make a good pesto! Lastly, it is important to dose your sauce, as some people like the sauce thin, others like it very dense. The Genovese tradition is to use a small ladle of the water you boiled the pasta in and use it to dilute the sauce when you mix it in the pasta.