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Recipe: Linguine with Fresh Basil Pesto and Pomodorini

Posted on | May 28, 2015 | Written by Matthew Di Nunzio | No Comments

Homemade-Pesto-MortarI love pasta! When I was about 12 years old, my father went to a ten-day class at a revered culinary school in Umbria to learn how to cook restaurant-worthy food for his four children. At the time, it didn’t occur to me why he was doing it, but ever after that experience, he made the most delicious meals. From as few as just the two of us to a hundred guests at a time, friends and family alike would never miss a chance to enjoy my dad’s legendary barbecues and dinners.

In particular, his greatest praise came from his specially marinated meats, which were always grilled to perfection, but above all, his extraordinary pastas garnered “Oohs” and “Ahs” from diners.

I’d sit and watch in amazement as he poured heart and soul into his pasta dishes. Each step of the process meticulously thought out, executed like a symphony, and explained in full—what he was doing and why he was doing it. While I gained a lot from his technical knowledge, what I gained most from watching my father cook was the love that he put into each dish.

Although my father seems to have an infinite repertoire of unbelievable dishes with his own little twist on each, this recipe for pasta with pesto is one he never made for us, so I dedicate it to him and promise to make it for him one day soon. Salute, Papà!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves

2 peeled garlic cloves

16oz. Pomodorini (Cherry Tomatoes)

2oz. freshly grated Pecorino

4oz. freshly grated Parmigiano

2tbls Pignoli (Pine Nuts)

Coarse Sea Salt

Ground Black Pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

1lb Linguine (1 box)

Preparation: 30 min.

Servings: four

Pesto gets its name from the original method of pounding and grinding its ingredients in a mortar, so I suggest using one to get the best results. You can use a food processor, though.

Place the garlic cloves in the mortar with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and start to pound into a white paste.

Add the fresh basil leaves a bunch at a time and continue to pound/grind in a circular motion until a liquid paste forms.

A little at a time, add the pecorino and parmigiano in and continue to mix into a brighter green homogeneous paste

Add the Pignoli and pound or grind them in so that they break up into small pieces

Add some olive oil, a bit at a time, and mix until you reach the desired consistency

Sprinkle in some freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and put the in a medium saucepan with some olive oil.

Add a ½ a teaspoon of salt, cover and simmer on a medium flame until the tomatoes are soft.

Once soft, crush the tomatoes into a bit of a pulp with a wooden spoon, cover and remove the saucepan from the flame, letting sit to cool down while preparing the pasta.

Fill a pot with water, add 2 teaspoons of salt, bring to boil, then add the pasta.

Once the pasta is ready, save ½ cup of the pasta broth and strain the pasta.

Mix the pesto into the crushed tomatoes, then add to the pasta, mixing gently yet extensively.

Add some of the pasta broth to the mix and sprinkle in some parmigiano.

Plate, serve and enjoy!

Linguine-Pesto-PomodorinoWe grow our own basil at home, so this was extra fresh and a real treat. My wife and I enjoyed this last Saturday with a wonderful Per Linda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013, although it would also pair nicely with a crisp Pinot Grigio or a Verdicchio.

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