Friday, January 29, 2010

Pasta with Classic Pesto

This is a great meal for a busy night. You can make the pesto in the time it takes to cook the pasta. It may be cheaper to buy bottled pesto, but this is so much better!

Classic Pesto
The New Best Recipe

1/4 cup pine nuts
3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves (optional)
7 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
1 lb pasta (long & thin or fusilli)

1. Toast the nuts in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate.

2. Add the garlic to the empty skillet. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool, then peel and chop.

3. Place the nuts, garlic, herb(s), oil, and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, stir in the Parmesan, and adjust the salt to taste. (The surface of the pesto can be covered with a sheet of plastic wrap or a thin film of oil and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

4. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.

5. Stir 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into pesto. Toss the hot pasta with the thinned pesto, adding the remaining pasta cooking water as needed. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature.

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