The origins of pesto genovese go way back in time, to Genova, in the Ligurian region of Italy. The word pesto comes from the verb "pestare" which loosely translated, means to crush. Traditionally, pesto genovese would be made with the mortar and pestle. You would grind the ingredients until they reached the consistency of a paste. While that method is surely tasty, and much more romantic, in my household convenience wins over on this one. The food processor is a pesto making champion. I can not stress enough the superiority of homemade pesto over anything you will buy in a store. Envelopes or jars? Yuck!!! Refrigerator section of Trader Joe's? Still not quite there. There is no substitute for making it fresh. So, here we go:
4 ounces fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted is better, raw is okay)
1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese, or parmigiano reggiano
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
a few shakes of sea salt
1 pound linguine (I suggest Barilla)
In your food processor combine all of the above ingredients. Pulse the food processor until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. All of the ingredients should be blended together to form a kind of thick paste consistency. You may need to add more olive oil. Set the pesto aside until you are ready to use it.
In a large pot, bring your pasta water to a rapid boil. Add a handful of rock salt. Then cook your pasta according to package directions, or until it is al dente. When pasta reaches desired doneness, strain it and set aside. Put the pasta pot back on the burner over a low heat, and put all of the pesto in the bottom of the pot. Then pour in all of the pasta. Turn the heat up to medium, and stir the pasta until the pesto is uniformly distributed, and the pasta is nice and hot. If the pasta seems sticky or dry, add more olive oil. Serve your pasta with a nice additional sprinkling of the pecorino or parmigiano reggiano cheese. Enjoy, it is going to be delicious. I like a nice dry white wine with this dish, like a chardonnay.
This pesto recipe can also be used to make a cold pasta salad. You can get some farfalle instead of linguine, throw in a half pound of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes. Toss, chill, and serve cold. It is a tasty favorite for a summer lunch or a picnic potluck.