June 15, 2012

Classic Basil Pesto and Pasta alla Genovese


It’s great to be back in the kitchen!  After spending the last few months buying a house, moving, attending night/weekend work events, and rehearsing and performing a show, we had one of our first free evenings at home.  It was wonderful. I put together a patio table, tended my tomatoes and herbs, and made dinner! I even had the time to make notes as I cooked and hauled out the camera to take pictures of said dinner.  It was CSA delivery day, so many of these ingredients made it onto the table the same day they left the farm.
Basil pesto is very dear to my heart (and palate for that matter).  It was one of the first recipes I mastered and one of my first forays outside the world of spaghetti and tomato sauce.

My "greener" pasta alla genovese is so called because this particular recipe has a much larger ratio of green beans and potatoes to pasta than the original.  For a more traditional version, halve the amount of potatoes and green beans and double the pasta (1 pound of each ingredient).

Classic Basil Pesto
printable recipe
Yields about 1 ¼ cups.
2 oz fresh basil leaves, washed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 small-medium cloves of garlic
1/3 cup (1¾ oz) pine nuts
1 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated (about 1 cup, if using a fine Microplane)
salt to taste (if needed)

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor. Process about 5 seconds.  Scrape down sides and repeat.  Add cheese and process until ingredients are combined and reaches desired consistency.  Taste for salt and add olive oil if pesto is too dry.

Use immediately or store as follows:
refrigerator: in an air tight container with a layer of olive oil over the top (up to 2 weeks)
freezer: freeze in an ice cube tray; transfer to a freezer-safe sealed container (up to 3 months)

"Greener" Pasta alla Genovese
printable recipe
Serves 6 as a main course.

For a more traditional version, use 1 pound each of potatoes, beans, and pasta.
2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 pounds fresh green beans, washed, ends snipped and cut in half
8oz farfalle pasta (or other short shape)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup basil pesto
freshly grated parmesan, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. With a mesh or slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a large bowl.

Return the water to a boil.  In a second large bowl, prepare an ice bath for the beans. Add the beans and cook for 3-5 minutes, until crisp-tender.  Remove beans with a mesh or slotted spoon and immediately submerge in ice bath to halt cooking. After a few minutes in the ice bath, drain the beans and add them to the potatoes.

Add more water if needed to cook the pasta. Return water to a boil, and add the remaining tablespoon salt.  Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water and drain pasta.

In a large bowl, combine the pesto and a splash of cooking water.  Stir, adding more water as needed to great a smooth sauce. Add warm pasta, potatoes and beans. Toss to combine. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.