Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My favourite summer recipe

I generally seem to be the really serious blogger here at Type M for Murder, and sometimes that needs a little relief.

I don’t want to make anyone feel too envious, but I’m currently in Italy with my darling wife. Before you shake your heads and think, Lucky bugger, you have to realize that I’m working very, very hard, researching my next novel, working my little fingers to the bone, to be honest. Since I don’t know what I’m going to need for the storyline of the book, we have been forced to visit Rome (4 days), Florence (3 days), out and about in Tuscany (1 week), Verona (a night), then Venice (3 days). Anyway, we’re renting apartments and villas throughout, so that besides feeling as if we’re locals, we can do our own cooking using the fine local ingredients. And cook we will, believe me!

Which brings me to the reason for this post. When you’re tired at the end of a long day of sightseeing...err...researching, there’s nothing better for a terrific summer meal than something whipped up quickly and eaten al fresco. What more could you want than a nice plate of pesto? Never had it? It’s originated in Genoa and it’s absolutely fantastic. We’ve served this many times to “pesto virgins” and they’ve all wound up loving it. If you have a food processor or blender, it’s a snap to make. If you don’t, then you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way with a mortar and pestle. The recipe serves 4-5.

2 garlic cloves
2 cups basil leaves, washed, then dried thoroughly
½ cup pine nuts
¾ cup Parmesan cheese (or half Parmesan, half Romano)
²⁄₃ cup olive oil (good quality only!)
1.5 lb fresh pasta (linguine or fettuccine). Use a pound if you’re forced to use dried pasta

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Pan toast the pine nuts over low heat until lightly browned. They burn easily. Keep stirring!
3. In a food processor, first chop garlic (you can cook it for a minute in the hot pasta water if you don’t like the raw garlic flavour), then add basil leaves a bit at a time. Scrape down the bowl.
4. Add toasted pine nuts, then cheese and finally dribble in the olive oil. Process only until well blended. Set aside.
5. When the water boils, salt it and add the pasta, cooking it until just al dente. You don’t want your pasta to be flabby!
6. As the pasta is cooking, take out a tablespoon or two of water, add it into the pesto and stir briskly. This will freshen it and add to its “mixability”.
7. Drain the pasta lightly and put it the back in the pot. Add the pesto to the pasta, mix well and serve on heated plates.
Hint: If you have any pesto sauce left over, pour a thin layer of olive on it, then cover tightly. It will keep for 10 days and you can even freeze it.

We serve pesto with tomatoes fresh from the garden, sliced thinly, with a bit of grated black pepper and a pinch of salt. A nicely chilled Soave or Pinot Grigio is perfect with it. For dessert? How about some gelato or tiramisu?

Buon Appetito!


Anonymous said...

Mmmm, I love pesto and have been looking for a good recipe. This looks wonderful!

Enjoy your research!!


Anonymous said...

Fabulous & healthy! Thanks for this. :)


Hannah Dennison said...

Ha! Excellent ..... i was wondering what to cook tonight and now I know. It sounds delicious. Have a glass of vino on me ....

Rick Blechta said...

If anyone still is looking at this, I've made a few revisions to the wording of the instructions to make it a bit more understandable.

This really is the best recipe we've tried (and we tried a number). I think the secret is the amount of pine nuts it uses and the fact they're toasted. That's a trick I learned from a Ukrainian friend. But at least she's married to an Italian!

And Hannah, we drank a lot of vino on our trip!