Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pesto Linguine

"The photo taken by CY Phang”.

The name of pesto comes from "to pound"(pestare) ingredients with a wooden pestle and marble mortar. I've made pesto both with mortar and pestle and with a food processor. The food processor method is definitely easier but the mortar method gives more flavor. Pesto made with a mortar and pestle is definitely better. The taste of pesto depends on size and flavor of basil leaves, cheese and olive oil you are using. With pestle and mortar you can taste and decide the right amount of ingredients during the process.


500 gr. Linguine (or trenette similar to linguine)
5 liters hot water
2,5 tablespoons salt
1/3 cup Riviera Ligure Extra Virgin Olive Oil
30 Genovese Basil leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Italy’s Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
¼ cup freshly grated Italy’s Pecorino sardo cheese
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or kosher salt)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove of garlic (roughly chopped)


Clean the basil leaves with a moist towel instead of washing them, this method protects their valuable aroma and flavor. Put the leaves on a paper towel and let them dry naturally.

Add half of the basil leaves and the salt into the mortar. Pound with a pestle in a steady rhythm when rotating the marble mortar. Don’t squash the leaves it destroys fibres. Thanks to the rotating movement the basil give up all its flavor. Continue to add more leaves.

Add the garlic into the mortar. Pound the garlic with the pestle.

Add ½ of the pine nuts into the mortar and mash them. Add the other half of the pine nuts. When all of the pine nuts are pounded, add freshly grated Pecorino Sardo and Parmigiano-Reggiano and continue to pound with the pestle.

Slowly add olive oil drop by drop and stir.Bring a pot of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add salt (2,5 tablespoons). Then add the linguine and cook according to package instructions. Usually 8-10 minutes, I cooked for 10 minutes in order to achieve the right texture. Stir for 2 or 3 times in order to avoid the linguine sticking together. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 tablespoon of pasta water.Put the pesto into a large bowl, add 1 spoonful of hot pasta water and whisk. Add the linguine to the pesto sauce. Stir to coat all the pasta with the pesto sauce.

Preheat the plates.

Have a good appetite!

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