Pasta with Pesto Genovese
When most people hear the word pesto they think of Pesto Genovese — pesto from Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy. The basil, pinenut, Parmigiano cheese, garlic combination is the pesto originally made in Genoa. Pesto (to pound) was traditionally made by pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle until a paste formed. Most people today just blend it up in a food processor. Pesto is great because it’s a breeze to make and takes even less time than it takes for the pasta to boil. If you make extra you can freeze it and then thaw it in the refrigerator overnight to use the next day. It’s also great as a spread on sandwiches and a sauce on pizza.
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6 servings
1 lb. pasta (I like any short pasta with curls or ridges, such as fusilli)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 garlic clove, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
⅓ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, excellent quality oil
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated, plus more for topping
Fine sea salt and/or kosher salt
A food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle
Put a large 7-quart (or larger) pot of water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil add a large handful of kosher (or sea) salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking make the pesto.
Wash and dry the basil. Peel the garlic clove and coarsely chop it. Measure out ¼ cup of pine nuts. Measure out ½ cup olive oil. Grate ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
In the bowl of a food processor (a mini one is fine), or in a blender jar, place in the 1 cup of packed basil leaves, the coarsely chopped garlic clove, ¼ cup pinenuts, and the ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Process everything until it is chopped fine. Now, with the processor or blender running, slowly drizzle ⅓ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil into the feed tube. The pesto should be like a thin paste. Taste for salt and if necessary add a bit of fine sea salt and pulse the processor a few times to combine.
When the pasta is done cooking, reserve some pasta water (about 1 cup) and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to a large bowl. Pour the Pesto Genovese over the pasta. Stir to coat the pasta with the pesto. Add a bit of pasta water to help coat the pasta with the pesto. Sprinkle with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve!