Everyone knows pesto, but very few know where it is from and that it is traditionally served with trofie. Trofie is short, twisted pasta that perfectly picks up the pesto viscous consistency, resulting in an even amount of pesto in every bite. Pesto originated in Liguria, the Northern region of Italy, famous for its fresh and herb-heavy dishes: google torta Pasqualina and give it a try!
This is one of those recipes that we repeat over and over so often that we have come up with the proportions that work best for our palate. For the best results, try to source very fresh and healthy looking sweet basil. If you can’t find any Ligurian olive oil, Arbequina or Cornicabra work perfectly. Their green colour also intensifies the colour of the pesto naturally.
Yields 2 servings
1 large clove of garlic
30g pine nuts, slightly toasted (optional)
50g basil leaves
50g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
Extra Virgin Olive oil (preferably a fruity one)
Pinch of salt
240g pasta (preferably trofie)
Gather all the ingredients. Using a mortar, crush into a smooth paste adding each ingredient in the order above excerpt the olive oil. You can also blend all the ingredients. Ligurians would protest, but we don’t care. Only then incorporate as much olive oil as needed for the paste to acquire a viscosity and consistency similar to ketchup or mayonnaise.
Meanwhile, boil a generous amount of salty water (‘salata come il mare’, calls for an abundant amount of salt). Cook the pasta al dente. Drain it, reserving a cup of water and return the pasta to the pot. Add the pesto to the pot alongside 2 tablespoons of pasta water and mix all together until the texture becomes creamy (you might need to add a bit more water depending on the freshness of the basil). Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmigiano.
- Use only the leaves of basil with no stems, that makes the pesto stringy.
- Microwave the garlic clove for 15s to tone down the pungent notes.
- Adjust the salt as the last thing, depending on how aged the Parmigiano is, you might need to add just very little salt.