Pasta with Pesto

August 18, 2009

Native to Asia, fragrant and tender basil (Ocimum basilicum) belongs to the mint family. Derived from the Greek word basilikohn, meaning “royal,” basil has long been considered noble and regal.

Linguini with pesto is simplicity incarnated.

LINGUINI WITH PESTO

1 lb fresh linguine or taglierinii
Sea salt

4 C fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
4 fresh, plump garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 C pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 C Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Sea salt, to taste

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare fresh pasta. See Basic Pasta Dough post (06.10.09)

Put the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt into the bowl of a food processor armed with the steel blade. Process in pulses into a paste. Add the olive oil and process further until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the cheese and add more oil if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Put the pesto in a warmed bowl or pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring large heavy pot of water to a rolling boil and add a liberal dose of salt. Cook fresh pasta until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the pasta through a colander, reserving some cooking water.

Add a little of the hot pasta water to the warm bowl or pan, then add the hot pasta and toss well to coat.

Pourboire: Fragile and quick to discolor, fresh basil should be carefully stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.

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