Home Made Pesto with Whole Wheat Linguine
History: The colour for which pesto is normally recognized is green and is taken mostly from Basil. According to wikipedia the herb was first domesticated in India. However Basil took the firmest root in the regions of Liguria, Italy and Provence, France. The Ligurians around Genoa took the dish and adapted it as any people would do, use the ingredients made available to them by the land and create something with it, in this case using a combination of basil, garlic, grated hard cheese, and pine nuts with a little olive oil to form pesto.
Why it’s awesome: I actually never even wanted to taste it…when I was young I would see it on the table and I would think…gross…why is that pasta green? It’s like…well you know what a child equates green to…anyway one day I tried it and I thought…wow this is great…now that I’m older I realize it’s also extremely easy to make!
Ingredients & Portions: Here’s the thing…as with many of my mother’s recipes…there is no such thing as measuring with cups and spoons….it’s more like “ahhh a little bit of this and a lot of that and then you’ll know when it tastes good”…well most of the time I’m lost but this recipe is so simple that I winged it and it came out quite well. Also if you make a mistake you can fix it!
- 2 cups of blended basil
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2 cups of grated hard cheese (parmigiano-reggiano, or pecorino) will do
- 2 cups of Pine Nuts
- 2-3 cups of Olive oil
- Note: always best to have more on hand than you need when it comes to this sauce
Keep in mind my estimations are approximate and I apologize but this is the way it was taught to me…I will try to quantify it a little better the next time around.
Servings: I made enough to cover a good pound to pound and a half of pasta but were just two so we used half the sauce…the rest is still waiting to be eaten.
Cook time & Directions:
- Start with roasting your garlic cloves, smash/crush them then fry them until they’re golden brown
- Next add about a cup of walnuts (I crushed mine at first, then I realized it makes no difference because I blended them all together anyway)…yeah…
- Next add 1.5 cups of olive oil to the pan or enough to coat the nuts and garlic
- Now you have to let the nuts and garlic cool down…so let it rest for about 20-30 mins then come back to it…
- Now put the nuts + garlic + oil mixture in your blender and start blending
- Add 1 cup of blended basil leaves or 2 – 3 cups of fresh basil
- Add a fresh (un-roasted) garlic clove, this adds some contrast and extra freshness to the sauce
- Now you can add your cheese…all in all I probably added 2 cups in my recipe but you might require less or more depending on your tastes…the flavour isn’t supposed to be predominant but more complimentary
Now you’re done, all you have to do is place some of the pesto in the bottom of a pan or bowl and add your pasta to it and mix…this is a sauce that is fresh and not cooked and can be eaten anytime of year. The only problem is the availability of fresh basil and its price.
In my house we like to prepare in advance so this sauce was made with a pre-blend of frozen frozen. Basically we bought some bushels, blended it in batches, bottle them in mason jars and frozen them. Basil is much more expensive in the winter than the summer just like most fruits and veggies.