Pesto alla Genovese: International Day of Italian Cuisines 2011

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Last year’s dish was Italian Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese, and this year Pesto alla Genovese. Italian chef Marino D’Antonio at Sureño Restaurant Beijing will be participating again next year on January 17.

From a “working class” type of sauce perfect for dressing “lasagne, ‘troffie’ or ‘trofie’ that in Liguria are elongated and twisted gnocchi, with pointed extremities and fatter waists,” the pesto sauce is now international in its appeal thanks to the sailors and the maritime adventures. I LOVE pasta, but am not well versed in the science of it. I usually cook my pesto with penne or fusilli. There’s a brilliant article on chow.com that I blogged about a while ago on all the different types of pastas and what sauces dress them best.

And if you are obsessive like me, you’d probably enjoy The Geometry of Pasta. I absolutely LOVE pasta and I miss Italy deeply for all the amazing food I had access to on a daily basis. It’s just never the same eating Italian anywhere else.

More tips from a Pesto Purist found here.

Pesto Sauce Recipe
Essential equipment

* 1 marble mortar
* 1 wooden pestle

Ingredients

* 100 gm of fresh Genovese basil. If you have challenges to import the fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil which guarantees high-quality taste and flavor, use your local basil but make sure is not too strong or is one of those variety that tastes almost like mint
* 30 gm pine nuts ( Sicilian are the best but also in California there is a great quality of this product)
* 60 g aged Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese freshly grated, do not compromise on this ingredient and make sure is good quality
* 2 garlic cloves from Vassalico (Imperia) if you can! Or just your local garlic would do, just make sure is no pre peeled and already fermented or you will obtain Korean keem chee instead of Pesto Genovese, just buy a garlic knob and peel the clove just before you need it
* 10 g Maldon flaky salt
* 80 cc Extra Virgin Olive Oil from “Ligurian Riviera” d.o.p., renowned for its sweet and fruity taste, which adds flavour to the basil and dressing.


Procedure

1. The marble mortar and wooden pestle are the tools traditionally used to make pesto.
2. Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a paper towel but don’t rub them.
3. In a mortar finely crush the basil leaves the garlic clove and pine nuts ,add the salt and cheese to he mixture and keep pounding using a light circular movement of the pestle ,add some of the Extra Virgin Olive from time to time and keep pounding and mixing until you obtain a very fine and smooth creamy sauce, pesto should not be greasy and the amount of oil used must be well absorbed and not floating on top
4. The preparation must be done as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation problems
5. You have now obtained more less 300 gm of pesto which should be more than enough to dress 6 to 8 portions of Trenette

NOTE: The reason why, you should not use a blender, is because rather than having its juices released by crushing action of the wooden pestle, the metal blade of the blender will chop the leaves and this action will compromise the flavor.

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One Comment

  1. International Italian Cuisines Day 2011: Pesto alla Genovese
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 00:12:37

    [...] January 17 is the annual day of Italian cuisine and the Italian chefs association pick a dish every year to promote the authenticity of their cuisine. Last year was ragu Bolognaise and this year Pesto alla Genovese. [...]

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