when you make something that has only 4 ingredients, that all get crushed together, with no heat applied whatsoever, what can possibly make your dish stand apart?
using pesto in your cooking, if only on occasion – is pretty much obligatory. it’s a flavor bomb. a crowd pleaser. pesto works on nearly everything one might imagine. we all like it. we all make it.
and i am here to tell you why mine is better…
1. olive oil – use ligurian. why? ligurian olive oil is not looking to overpower. it is light and fruity, unlike the more powerful tuscan and sicilian oils – and if you use a stronger, heavier, spicier oil, it’ll kill the flavor of your pesto. better to buy the light bertolli from your supermarket that tastes neutral. come to think of it, a spanish oil might work well here due to the gentler, buttery nature of those olives. regardless – think light. or just pick up some ligurian oil.
2. basil – fresh from the garden, picked minutes before using and soaked in water for a few minutes – otherwise it is too strong.
3. pine nuts – mediterranean. not chinese. these are long and slender. not the squat triangular version. they are lower in fat and higher in flavor. and they’re hard to find. and wildly expensive. but then, you’ve come to expect this of me…
4. cheese – i use mostly parmigiano, sometimes mixed with a little pecorino
this time around, i didn’t use a mortar and pestle, but i wish i had, if only to get the creamier texture. and i added some garlic – although not too much – that this saturday when i make it again, i won’t. and the pasta, the shape is called casareccia – a curving twisted tube that holds the pesto beautifully. although it’s a stellar italian dried pasta, this will be replaced with freshly home-rolled thin sheets made with a blend of ap flour, 00 flour, seriously farm fresh eggs and white wine.
the black tomatoes bought at my local farmers market the day before, were roughly chopped and thrown in raw, right on top. the pesto was thinned with some of the hot pasta water and then it all got tossed together. i regret not taking an ‘after’ shot. this dish is my kind of rustic, beautiful food.
all in all it was a perfect lunch on a sunday summer afternoon, accompanied by a wonderful bastianich rosé.
but this coming saturday night’s pesto? it might just kick this one’s proverbial ass.
(the perfect pesto) <— for your viewing pleasure