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Pasta,Recipes

September 19, 2009

Pesto Sauce Primer

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“Life is a combination of magic and pasta!”

-Federico Fellini, Italian Film Director

pesto genovese 300x225 Pesto Sauce Primer

Why is PASTA popular? Alone it is a bland piece of wheat (it better be a quality durum!). Ah, but dress up that wet noodle with an menagerie of sauces and you have the # 1 dish in the world. The most popular sauces are tomato based but there are others.

What is PESTO? Where does it come from? Why is it green? Is it easy to make?

Pesto or the proper name Pesto Genovese is associated with the Italian city Genoa (did someone say salami?) in the Liguria region. The word “Pesto” is actually late Latin for “pestare” which means “pounded”. According to the Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink by John Mariani, “Pestare” is tied to Pesto because the actual concept of pesto to ancient condiments was made by grinding spices with a mortar and pestle. Then it is combined with oil. This technique was well known in ancient Persia and Rome.

Pesto is actually a technique but why is it associated with the herb basil?

Simply because basil was everywhere in Genoa, Italy. Basil was well suited for long travel around the Mediterranean. Basil was also know for its medicinal qualities all the way back to the Greek Hippocratic regimen.

This wonderful sauce is the very essence of Summer. If made with the freshest Basil be prepared for a sensory overload for both the nose and palate.

So now let’s make PESTO GENOVESE…..

Ingredients

Makes 1 cup

2 cups of fresh Basil, rinse with water and dry

2 Tbsp of pine nuts (pignoli)

1 garlic clove

Pinch of salt and black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of graded Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese (do not use the domestic cheese’s as a substitute … trust me!)

shot glass (1 oz.) of club soda, optional

Chilled Bottle of Ruffino Orvieto Classico, NOT OPTIONAL…trust me!

Open up the bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass.

Combine the pine nuts, basil, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Chop and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Then add the club soda, if you wish. Add the cheese 1 Tbsp at a time.

Pour yourself another glass of wine.

Bravo! You’re done…and you said you can’t cook.

Now boil some water for your pasta and mangia!