Pasta With Pesto

Summer in our garden means lots and lots of fresh, fragrant basil. Luckily both my Husband and I love homemade pesto, and recently after a week of so much food over Christmas, we both needed something light, simple, and delicious. This dish hit the spot. Almost everything is a cupboard staple, and it’s ready in no time at all. I went the whole hog and made the pasta from scratch, as we had long wanted to try pesto with roughly torn pasta sheets. But while any homemade egg pasta would be delicious, feel free to use whichever pasta you have to hand.

I have, on a few occasions, tried to make pesto the old fashioned way using a pestle and mortar. But since I like to make a large batch to have some leftover in the fridge it’s just not big enough. Plus you can’t beat the speedy, effortless convenience of a food processor.

The quantity of pasta stated below will serve four adults. Use more or less, depending on how many you will be serving. Any leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week. It also makes a great dip, or to coat some steamed green beans.

Ingredients: 

For the pesto:

  • about one large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked off and stems discarded
  • pine nuts, about a handful, lightly roasted in a dry pan until fragrant
  • one clove of fresh garlic
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • black peppercorns
  • sea salt
  • Grana Padano cheese, about a handful, grated

For the rest:

  • pasta, about 400 g
  • a few anchovies
  • extra Grana Padano cheese, to serve {or you could use Pecorino for a sharper taste}

1. Make sure you have toasted the pine nuts. Then start by putting a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. If you are using fresh pasta it will only need about three minutes or so. If you are using dried pasta it will need longer, in which case you can put the pasta into the boiling water before making the pesto. If using fresh pasta have the water boiling and ready, and put the pasta in to cook after making the pesto.

2. To the food processor add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, a little freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of salt. Pulse a few times until it’s mostly combined. Then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream. The pesto needs to be quite loose but not overly runny. Add the grated cheese and pulse a couple of times to combine. Taste the pesto for seasoning and set aside.

3. In a large frypan add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat to a moderate to high heat. Put a few anchovies in the oil and stir them gently until they dissolve. Add just enough pesto to coat the quantity of pasta you are making to the frypan with the dissolved anchovies, and a little cooking water from the pasta. A couple of tablespoons should do it, you just want to make it a little saucier and less dip-like.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the pesto, stir it well to coat all the pasta, and it’s ready to serve. You can drizzle a little bit more olive oil over it at the table, and finish with some more grated cheese.

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