Pesto Genovese on a Warm Summer Day
One of the first things we did after getting settled in our new home was to plant an herb garden. We love using fresh herbs all summer long and this year, they are loving the hot and humid summer weather we are having in Minnesota.
The basil was overflowing in the box, so this past weekend we made a batch of classic pesto Genovese. The smell of the basil and garlic wafted through the house and brought back memories of the little shop in San Gusme that always had a big batch of this pesto available to purchase. It was one of my favorite things. I often would put it on short pasta and combine it with fresh cherry tomatoes in season. It's also delicious on Vincenzo's fresh gnocchi, which is how he served it in his restaurant.
Other times, I loved to pair it with the classic Trofie pasta with it's spirals to catch all of the lovely basil, cheese and pine nuts. The classic dish that this pesto is served with is Trofie a la Genovese and includes the addition of cooked potatoes (about 4 small potatoes cooked and cubed) and green beans (around 1 cup). I always cooked the potatoes and green beans along with the pasta in the salted water. The cooking time was usually perfect for everything. It's a beautiful summer dish to try.
The smell of basil for me is the smell of the summer season. And summer is my favorite season of all. We celebrate many family birthdays and enjoy the 3 months of warm weather making the best of the limited time it is here in Minnesota!
We hope you are enjoying your summer too! Keep in touch and buon appetito from our kitchen to yours.
Chef Vincenzo Giangiordano
4 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves (trim the stems, wash and dry well)
¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 clove of garlic (peeled and sliced thin)
1 tsp sea salt
¼ cup pine nuts (toasted or roasted, if possible)
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (may need extra to top off jars if you are using jars for storage)
· Place your immersion blender metal stick with blade (or your blender bowl or processor bowl along with metal blade) that you plan to use to make your pesto into the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to mixing up the pesto. If using an immersion blender, look for a narrow vessel to make the pesto, such as a plastic pitcher or narrow metal container. This is one of Vincenzo's chef secrets to keeping the pesto bright green in color.
· Wash and dry your basil leaves and place them into your bowl or blender. Add all of the remaining ingredients with the oil at the end.
· Blend on high setting for 2 minutes until well blended and creamy. You may need to stop a couple of times and use a spatula to bring everything together.
· If you are not planning to use right away, place the pesto in a jar (or jars) and cover the top with oil. This will also keep the pesto green and fresh until you are ready to use it. Store in the refrigerator. This also freezes well.
Serve with pasta or on bruschetta for a lovely summer treat! If you are serving this with pasta, place the pesto into the bottom of the serving bowl or platter, then add your warm pasta over it and toss. Do not warm the pesto on the stove or it will turn brown.
Makes about 6-8 servings