When purchasing a gift for someone, a good rule-of-thumb is to get something you like yourself. You never know when the gift might be returned to you. And the cookbook, “The Pasta Bible,” was one of these returned gifts. I skimmed through the cookbook and it fell to a recipe for pesto. Perfect! I had both basil and new red potatoes in my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) basket. I can serve pesto as a “sauce” for the potatoes.
Cookbook Collection – Don’t give away “The Pasta Bible”
My son likes to cook and I often get him cookbooks as presents for birthdays and holidays. Now he’s moving to Germany to live–leaving New Orleans. When cleaning out his apartment, if was obvious he couldn’t take all the cookbooks. He said, you can give all the cookbooks away except the “Pasta Bible”. I want that one mailed to me.I skimmed through the cookbook. Lots of facts about flour, pasta, sauces and recipes with beautiful illustrations. My kind of cookbook. (Maybe I won’t mail the book!) My son has several pasta attachments for his Kitchen Aide mixer including a ravioli maker. He likes to give ravioli parties with guests bringing different fillings and sauces for his homemade ravioli. I’m sure some of the inspiration comes from this cookbook.
Pesto Alla Genovese
The cookbook has a simple recipe for pesto and instructions. Basil Pesto is made with ground pine nuts and garlic with minced basil and cheese, then olive oil is added; salt and pepper, too. The traditional method is to use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients. This makes a smooth paste and sauce; like mayonnaise. I used a food processor, lacking a mortar and pestle. The flavor is the same; perhaps not the consistency but basil pesto tasted just fine.
Basil Pesto comes from the Ligurian Riveria, a region of Italy. This region is along the northern coast of the country. Garlic and olives are mainstays in the cooking of this region. Plenty of herbs are grown there and pine trees for the pine nuts. And of course, wonderful olive oil. Genovese Basil Pesto was named for Genao, the city where basil pesto reportedly originated.
There are many, many variations to pesto. For example, a wonderful pesto can be made using walnuts or pecans substituted for the pine nuts.
Delicious New Red Potatoes — not all are equal
My CSA basket contained new red potatoes. Can you say that potatoes are delicious? Well, these potatoes have flavor like I’ve rarely eaten. I can now say that not all potatoes are equal. Kudos to the farmer who planted and grew these potatoes!
Spring and summer crop of basil
Basil grows easily in Louisiana gardens in the spring, summer and autumn. Plant the seeds in a sunny location and watch them grow. One seed packet makes a plentiful supply enough for you and all your friends. The CSA basket had a nice portion.
Making Basil Pesto
To make the pesto, first grind the pine nuts with a mortar and pestle. Or, in my case, use a food processor.Then grind in the garlic. I used a garlic press to mash the garlic and added this to the food processor.
Mince the basil.Add the basil to the garlic and pine nuts. Process until finely chopped.
Add fresh, graded Parmesan cheese (or pecorino cheese) and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Process until smooth. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Serve with pasta or new red potatoes.
I only had one pound of new red potatoes and a small portion of basil. So I’ve scaled down the recipe to make a small batch of basil pesto.
Basil Pesto; A Very Small Batch
- 1 pound new red potatoes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- dash salt
- dash fresh grated black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Method and Steps
- Add new red potatoes to medium pot with about 1/2 cup water. Add 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid and gently boil for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add more water if needed so the potatoes won’t boil dry. Remove from heat. Drain. Cut larger potatoes in halves or fourths. Set aside.
- In small food processor bowl, pulse and process the pine nuts until finely chopped.
- Crush the garlic clove with garlic press and add to food processor bowl. Pulse to combine.
- Mince the basil leaves with a knife, add to food processor bowl and process to a paste.
- Add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and pulse a few times to combine.
- Stream in olive oil. The pesto should be a smooth paste.
- Add to new red potatoes in serving bowl and stir to combine.
Garlic and Olives. Teubner, Christian. Rizzi, Silvio and Tan Lee Leng. The Pasta Bible. Chartwell Books, Inc. a division of Book Sales, Inc. New York, New York. 2010.