simply pesto

July 23rd, 2009 · 32 Comments

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.

stay tuned…

(the perfect pesto) <— for your viewing pleasure

Tags: dessert · fish · pasta · pesto · tomatoes

32 responses so far ↓

  • 1 krysta // Jul 23, 2009 at 11:11 am

    i’m thrilled you posted this recipe especially after the tease on fb. bought some pine nuts at my favorite italian deli and am making this tonight, i think i’ll break out my mortar. i also made a steak the way you posted about earlier… so damn good, it was unbelievable.

  • 2 lo // Jul 23, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I’m a believer, Claudia.
    And I have little doubt that your pasta this weekend is going to seriously ROCK.

    Great tips. Now are you gonna tell me where to find the Mediterranean pine nuts?

  • 3 Jennifer Hess // Jul 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Simply perfection, if you ask me.

  • 4 Julia // Jul 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Honestly, I’m most intrigued by your tomatoes! Are those Cherokee purple’s. They look so juicy and delicious – a perfect foil for your pesto.

  • 5 jim voorhies // Jul 23, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    no garlic? no garlic? you’re going to make pesto without garlic?

    think of your arteries! :)

  • 6 Brooke // Jul 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I always thought garlic was a must. I’ll have to try it with a little less, just to see. But I really like garlic…

    I love the simplicity of the chopped tomato tossed in there. Looks delicious.

  • 7 Amy at Minimally Invasive // Jul 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Loverly. The tomatoes are really what get me going; they’re still a few weeks off for us.

    Take me olive oil-shopping next time you’re in town, pleeeeease! I usually walk in with the best of intentions to find a great new olive oil, quickly get overwhelmed by the selection, then leave without buying. I just can’t handle too many choices at once. Sad.

  • 8 Diana // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Yes! Are you, like me, weary of garlic in EVERYTHING? I love how fresh things taste without it lately. It’s a bit overwhelming in most things. In Italy, it was far from overused.

  • 9 maggie // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Have never heard of soaking the basil—smart!

  • 10 rachel // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Perfect..really, my kind of supper too.
    hope you post about the saturday pasta made with a slosh of white wine, I’ve been meaning to try that ever since I saw that charming little film.
    Glad your tomatoes are looking so good.
    If I ever visit I will bring you a big fat bagfull of pinenuts from Italy thats a promise.

  • 11 Becky and the Beanstock // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    And where DO you find those elusive pine nuts? Nice angle — well done!

  • 12 claudia // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    i mean, you can’t make this shit up…

    more precisely

    diana – i love garlic. and i could not agree with you more…

  • 13 claudia // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    rachel… RACHEL…

    i totally forgot you posted this
    i totally ripped you off… !!!

  • 14 claudia // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    really though… i stole ruhlman’s post

  • 15 Foodie at Fifteen // Jul 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    might be good on some pizza…

  • 16 Lesley // Jul 24, 2009 at 11:43 am

    This time of year in Tennessee, there’s just no good reason NOT to make this dish. I only wish that I could grow my own tomatoes. At least I’ve got some great basil!

  • 17 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Jul 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Pesto always tastes like summer to me. Growing up, basil was only available in the summer and that’s when Mom would make pesto.

    So how does one obtain what can be assured are mediterranean pine nuts and liguorian olive oil?

    Are you a pesto purist, or do you like to play with your greens and nuts? One of the best pestos I ever made was mint, pistachios, and pecorino for example.

  • 18 Ethel // Jul 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Another winner of yours. I put some pesto on swordfish and it was wonderful.
    Enjoyed the video too. I make my pesto in a cusinart. Does it matter? I also just learned to soak the basil first. Always wondered why the basil was so powerful. Thanks.

  • 19 Bren // Jul 27, 2009 at 9:02 am

    speaking of pesto: how long have u stored extra batches? I made some recently with walnuts, since i didn’t have or want to buy pine nuts (way way way delicioso!) and girl, i bottled it up and lasted me two months! The only reason I threw out the little bit left, JUST yesterday, was b/c I was starting to get nervous about the olive oil and cheese used.. i mean come on.. no artificial preservatives and it was still kickin’! hmmm.
    anyway, it’s my fave new *thing* to put on everything!

  • 20 Phoo-D // Jul 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I never knew there were different types of pine nuts! Now I’m going to have to hunt down the meditteranean ones. We love pesto!

  • 21 Cynthia // Jul 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve learned so much in a short post! I knew that there were flavor differences in olive oils, but it never crossed my mind that there could be a significant flavor difference in pine nuts (or any nuts, for that matter!). It looks like I have tasting homework to do. thanks for sharing!

  • 22 Meg // Jul 28, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Mostly, I don’t feel even remotely sad about the stuff we no longer eat at home because of my daughter’s nut allergy. Pesto, though? Makes me sad. It adds to the many reasons I heartily hope the kid will fall on the right side of the percentage of kids who outgrow the allergy. Back in the day, I didn’t really have the patience to go the mortar and pestle route for pesto, myself.
    This looks like a perfect summer dish.

  • 23 rebekka // Jul 29, 2009 at 7:05 am

    LOVE! I love how you do stuff like this. So pared down, so exquisite.

  • 24 Hillary // Jul 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Did you use a blender? How did you make the pesto if you didn’t use a mortar and pestle?

    Here is another good recipe to use pesto in: Salmon with Pesto and Puff Pastry

  • 25 goodfoodmatters // Jul 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    You always use the best of the best.
    I simply must get the true Italian pine nuts!!

  • 26 greg // Jul 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    It’s better because it goes to 11. But really – Some porn site is just waiting for that domain to expire.

  • 27 Claudia // Jul 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I’ve been experimenting with pesto as well, and enjoyed the video. Have you made that pasta with the white wine? I’d like to get the proportions and know how yours turned out.

  • 28 Peter // Jul 30, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Heh. Nuts online.

    As soon as our tomatoes ripen (should be sometime next year, the way it’s raining) I am going to eat this every day.

  • 29 chefectomy // Jul 30, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    I FREAKIN’ love this Claudia. Simple ingredients is the best. Agree on the garden picked basil, I don’t know why more people don’t grow their own it so easy. Even Lucifer can grow basil…


  • 30 katiek @kitchensidecar // Aug 5, 2009 at 2:16 am

    i think you had me at the home grown basil. I had a plant once – it got buggy. I got bugged out. I kicked those bugs out. Sadly, there went the plant as well.

  • 31 democommie // Aug 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    So, ok, it was jarred pesto from Aldi, but y’know what it DID make the organic fettucine with my ratatouille taste better, as did the gorgonzola!

  • 32 Jeff // Apr 26, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Loverly. The tomatoes are really what get me going; they’re still a few weeks off for us.

    Take me olive oil-shopping next time you’re in town, pleeeeease! I usually walk in with the best of intentions to find a great new olive oil, quickly get overwhelmed by the selection, then leave without buying. I just can’t handle too many choices at once. Sad.

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