CLASSIC PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

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There’s no doubt, it’s the most loved raw sauce of the world and, as such, it’s just as famous as mayonnaise, if not, even more so. ;We’re talking about Pesto, about the only genuine one; the Genoese one (not ‘alla genovese’). Basil, garlic, pine nuts, Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses, extra virgin oil and a few granules of sea salt. All the other diverse variations floating around the world are nothing more than unsuccessful bogus or aberrations of the original. Pesto is an ageless benchmark and a contemporary symbol of Italian cooking around the world. It’s enough to think that for dressing pasta only tomato sauce is used more.

• 2 cups packed basil leaves
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
• Coarse sea salt
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano Genuino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 

Wipe basil with damp paper towels to remove any dirt (do not rinse); tear any large leaves into smaller pieces. Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic and pinch salt in a mortar. Using the pestle with a rotary movement, grind ingredients against the wall of the mortar until ground to a paste. Using a wooden spoon, stir in cheese to combine (you can use both if you would like, half of Pecorino and half of Parmesan) .Stir in oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency (you do not have to use all of the oil).

If you do not have a mortar, you can use a food processer. Blend the pine nuts, garlic, and salt into a paste. Add the basil, drizzle in the oil, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto, then set aside.  Make sure to place the mixer’s bowl in the freezer before using it and when you do use it in pulse mode so that you will not overheat the pesto.

Pesto should never be cooked over the stove. Make sure to stir it in always at the end and never on a hot stove.

Cook the Trofie pasta in salted water over high heat until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. Dilute pesto with 2 Tbsp. pasta water, then drain the pasta, transfer it to a large bowl, and mix with the pesto. Serve with a handful of parmigiano reggiano.

ABOUT TROFIE PASTA

Trofie is Ligurian pasta made with flour and water, no eggs. It is rolled by hand into little squiggly shapes and served with basil pesto. If you've never made fresh pasta before, this is a good one to start with for two reasons: you don't need a pasta machine, and trofie is almost impossible to buy outside of Liguria, so your efforts will be rewarded with a dish you can't just order in a restaurant. Cutting the dough into little pieces and rolling each one between your palms is somewhat labor intensive, so plan to serve this dish the Ligurian way - in small portions as a first course. A good way to cope with the task of shaping pasta is to enlist the help of your family. Kids find it particularly fun, and you'll be done in no time.
Trofie
• 3 cups flour, plus extra to work with
• tsp. salt
• 1¼ cups water

Make the trofie: Sift the flour and salt together into a mound on a clean surface. Use your hand to make a well in the center, then pour in about 1¼ cups water. Flour your hands, then knead the flour and water together with both hands until the dough is soft and no longer sticky. Push the dough to one side, clean the surface and your hands, then flour both again and knead dough again, adding more flour if necessary, until it is very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and set aside for half an hour.

Clean and flour hands and surface again. Pinch off a pea-size piece of dough and roll it away from you with the palm of your hand to form a fat matchstick. Turn your hand up at a 45-degree angle, then gently roll the matchstick back toward you to form a spiral shape with two pointed ends. Repeat to use all the dough. (This may take practice; expect to throw away some ill-formed trofie at first.) As trofie are made, transfer them to a lightly floured, parchment-lined baking sheet.