...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Last Night's Simple Pasta con Pesto

It is hot in Texas these weeks, as a rule, over 95 degrees plus humidity (which means real-feel temperatures by the time I get home from work are around a hundred), with the occassional thundertstorm popping up in the afternoons--never over our house, alas...::sigh::
So, naturally, I am not in the mood for long and involved slaving in the kitchen. But since hunger is a powerful motivator, I decided to rummage around last night and see what I could make... and it hit me while I was already deciding on the old standby "something pastalike"--hey, I haven't made fresh pesto this summer yet...and The Husband is quite fond of it. The fact that I did not have pine nuts that the original purist recipe requires never hindered me: I do not have an Italian deli nearby where I can get relatively cheap pine nuts, and the local grocery stores although stock it, charge a fortune of a tiny little jar. So. Here's my version: adjust amount of ingredients as necessary.

Anna's Pasta Con Pesto:

1 pkg. spaghetti
2 cups fresh basil leaves (I have two plants growing in my herb garden every year religiously, so it's easy for me to say, but imho nothing beats the aroma of fresh basil)
3-4 cloves of garlic (you can NEVER have too much garlic)
1/2-2/3 cup of olive oil, preferably extra virgin (more if needed)
1/2 to 1 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted (I just toss it into a pan and shake and stir over medium heat until lightly fragrant)
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmeggiano cheese (trust me, it needs to be freshly grated... after one sad incident, I am willing to pay extra and get a chunck of the real stuff every time as opposed to the shaken-from-the-can variety ::shudder::)

Boil water in large pot; make this a lot of water.
Just before it boils, salt the water; otherwise you'll end up with tasteless strands of starch
When it is at a rolling boil, add 1 tsp of olive oil and stir-this prevents said tasteless strands of starch to stick together into a sad lump
Add pasta, STIR once, and cook, without lid on pot, for about 10 minutes.
While it cooks, prepare the pesto.

Put olive oil, basil leaves, garlic cloves, and nuts into food processor and process until only slighlty chunky. This may require some stops and scraping the processor down. taste and adjust if necessary by adding more olive oil, and salt and pepper. When done, spoon it in a bowl and set aside; grate the cheese.

Now turn to your stove; check your clock.
Taste pasta after 10 minutes, and if it's JUST a tad hard, it's ready.
Now the trick: switch off the heat and pour in 1 cup of COLD water to stop the cooking process: this is the ''scare the pasta'' part. :-)
Pour into colander, rinse SHORTLY with WARM water, pour back to pot, add some olive oil & freshly grated black pepper to pot, stir, and yell: DINNER! (banging of pot is allowed)
By the time everyone is in the kitchen, have spoons in the pesto and the grated parmeggiano, next to the pot of pasta, and line up with pasta bowls by the counter.
Tell everyone to really stir the stuff together as pesto tends to stick to bottom of pasta bowls.




At 12:25 PM, Blogger Autumn said...

It was very much good. I'll have to copy this when I get to a non-work environment....:)

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous the pragmatic chef™ said...

Sounds terrific! Great minds think alike...

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Annamaria said...

ooo...must try that one, I love shrimp...hey, another person who knows what pecorino romano is...yay!
Truth to tell, my best pesto ever was when my old food processor broke and died in the middle of dinner preps and I used my shiny Cutco (oooh, best gifts my husband EVER gave me for an anniversary) to chop everything oh so fine, so the mortar and pestle method is close to my heart as well...just would need a restaurant-size model that I do not have.
Thanks for stopping by!

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous the pragmatic chef™ said...

BTW, I buy a bag of very good pine nuts at Costco for about $9. They keep in the freezer for a long time.

Great to have around because as you well know, they're really versatile, I even use them in pie crusts occasionally.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Andrea and William said...

Annamaria, this sounds like wonderful recipe. My husband is a classicaly trained executive chef :) I will have to share. I saw that you lived in Irving (I just moved here) I was looking for maybe an online buddy? email me ilovechefwilliam@yahoo.com



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