Pasta with Pesto Genovese
Pasta with Pesto Genovese
Chef Rosario’s thoughts:
Genoa (Genova) is the capital of the region of Liguria. Perhaps the best-known Ligurian dish is basil pesto genovese—pesto from Genoa. In the past, many Ligurians made their living as sailors and were away from home for months at a time. When they returned, they longed for fresh greens to restore their health. Pesto means “pounded” and it is a gorgeous emerald green sauce that consists of fresh basil, pine nuts (pinoli), extra-virgin olive oil, a mixture of Parmigiano (cow’s milk) and Pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheeses, and a touch of garlic all mashed together with a mortar and pestle. Pesto is traditionally served with trenette(flat narrow dried pasta similar to linguine) or trofie (short hand-twisted pasta).
Liguria is best known for its white wines,of which “Lunae” Colli di Luni Vermentino is a shining example. This wine has a lovely piney quality with mineral notes that mirror the region’s geographical attributes. It offers a certain complexity heightened by floraland spice notes with a hint of citrus.
Not many wine lovers know that Liguria also offers an excellent red wine that pairs beautifully with full-flavored pasta dishes: “Auxo Lunae” is a Sangiovese-based blend typical of Colli di Luni red wines. It has a deep ruby color and luscious overtones of fresh cherries and berries.
- 8 oz Linguine (Trenette) or Trofie (specialty pasta from Genova)
- 1 medium potato, cut in 1/2” pieces
- salt to taste
- 1 cup green beans, cut in 2” segments
- 1/2 cup basil pesto Genovese (store bought or homemade; see recipe below for homemade)
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water (4 to 5 quarts) to a boil over high heat.
Once the water has reached a rapid boil, add salt, potatoes and green beans.
Bring water back to a boil and cook for a few minutes.
When potatoes are almost cooked, add pasta to water and cook according to package directions.
When pasta is ready, reserve about ½ cup of pasta water and drain the rest. Return pasta and vegetables to the pot.
Remove pot from heat and add pesto sauce along with ¼ cup of pasta water, stirring until the sauce is creamy and all the flavors are well incorporated; moisten with more pasta water if needed.
Transfer to a platter or portion onto individual plates.
Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts if desired.
This pesto recipe is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. It can also be made in a small food processor.
- 1 ea., garlic clove, peeled.
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves; stems removed. (About 1 bunch of basil)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano)
- 2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
- Start crushing or processing the garlic with the salt until pasty
- Add pine nuts and crush or process to a paste
- Add half of the basil at a time, and crush or process until it becomes a thick paste
- Add cheeses and incorporate
As you process the mixture, add the oil in a stream to create a thick paste.