Pesto with Pasta

Author: Justin
Serves about 4

1 lb. pasta (bow ties suggested) about 1/2 cup pine nuts
3 cloves (and only 3 cloves) garlic 2 packed cups basil leaves (4-5 oz, stems removed)
2 Tbl. fresh parsley some olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesano reggiano

Add 1 Tbl salt to a gallon of water, and put up to boil.  Meanwhile, make the pesto.

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet, over lowish heat.  Toss every minute or two, to brown evenly.  Remove when reasonably golden brown.

Blanch the garlic for 30 seconds in boiling water, in their skin if they have it.  Douse immediately in ice water, and peel.

Place the basil and parsley into a ziploc bag; squeeze out the air, then seal and beat with a rolling pin for a minute or so to release the oils a bit.

Chop the garlic; this might as well be done in the Cuisinart.  Add the basil/parsley to the Cuisinart and chop small.  Add the pine nuts and a bit of olive oil.  Pulse in the Cuisinart, adding more olive oil in small quantities until the whole things adheres as a thick paste.

Remove the pesto to a bowl, and stir in the cheese.

When the water is boiling, toss in pasta; cook until ready to taste.  (This can happen in parallel to making the pesto; once the bits of the pesto are prepared, actually making the sauce takes less than five minutes.)  Drain the pasta (reserving a little boiling water), and place in a large bowl.  Dump the pesto paste on top.  Pour a little of the hot water (maybe an oz. or three) on top to loosen the sauce, and toss very thoroughly to distribute the sauce evenly.

Notes and Variations

Fabulous dish, and not a horrible amount of work -- maybe 45 minutes all told.  It gets a lot of dishes dirty, though.

The original said to add salt and pepper to taste; since Jane and I disagree about how salty we like this, we omit that and add it at the table instead.

The first time we tried this, we said, "3 cloves garlic?  That's not nearly enough -- we like far more garlic than most people."  So we doubled the garlic.  Bad idea: the garlic overwhelmed the dish.  3 cloves turns out to be just enough to lend a very subtle back-burn to the pesto, without interfering with the basil (which is, after all, the main event).


Paraphrased directly from America's Test Kitchen, almost unchanged (I actually got this from the TV show, but the given link goes to a more-detailed recipe); I record it here only because the recipe is so good, and I never trust that someone else's site will be around forever.  This is the kind of recipe that makes us serious ATK fans.  I commend their site to any serious foodie: their version of this recipe, as is typical, has more details and ideas than the basics I give here...