Pesto is oh so easy!
When I first moved to Italy in 2003, I lived on pesto (store bought of course!) and fresh pasta, which meant my dinner was always ready in less than 10 minutes! It took me many years to try making my own. I don’t know why because it’s so EASY!
In recent years pesto has become much more sophisticated and versatile. There are a number of different types including rocket, pistachio, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic scapes, parsley and dandelion. Yes dandelion! I ate that recently for the first time in a Michelin star restaurant my husband and I like to go to on special occasions. That occasion was our wedding anniversary back in June this year and we had a wonderful meal. However, I couldn’t help thinking they had to be the world’s most expensive dandelions!
Pesto has also started to be used on other foods, not just pasta. It can be served on sandwiches, pizza, baked potatoes or burgers; added to seafood or soups or just used as a dip. And I’m sure there are many other recipes which can include it. However, on pasta remains my favourite way of eating it and trofie are definitely my favourite pesto pasta partner!
Trofie are short twisted spirals of pasta from Liguria, the Italian region which gave us the traditional basil pesto Genovese, which we all know and love! They pair superbly because the sauce really adheres to the pasta. However trofie are not the only pasta Italians eat pesto with. Spaghetti is, of course, a popular choice but so too are fusilli, chitarra, maccheroni, gnocchi, trenette, casarecce and mezze penne.
Which ever pasta you use, don’t be afraid to make this pesto yourself (the recipe is for either rocket & walnuts or classic basil & pine nuts). It’s easy peasy and nothing beats using fresh ingredients!
- 4-6 cupfuls of washed rocket or basil (you can also substitute half the leaves with spinach)
- 1/2 cup of grated grana or parmesan cheese
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500grms trofie pasta ( trenette, fusilli, short maccheroni, gnocchi and spaghetti also go well)
- Place the rocket or basil leaves into a food processor with a little oil and pulse a few times.
- Add the garlic and a bit more oil and pulse again.
- Add the nuts and pepper and salt as required and pulse again.
- Remove from the food processor and mix in the cheese
- Add more olive oil to get the consistency you require.
- Put a pan of salted water on to boil (boiling the water whilst making the sauce will save time later)
- When the water starts to boil add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet. (fresh pasta takes less time to cook than dried pasta)
- Strain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the pesto.
- Mix the pasta and sauce together well and serve with extra grated cheese if desired.
- You can mix ricotta into the pesto for a ravioli or cannelloni filling if you add enough ricotta.
- I also sometimes add a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes. Just cut the tomatoes in half and add them to the blender with the nuts.
- Pesto can also be eaten on toasted bread or as part of a pizza topping or dolloped on baked potatoes.