I still remember my first attempt at making my own pesto - I was living in Pakistan at the time and had succeeded in growing basil plants from seeds. As the plants grew I realized that I would very likely get a bumper crop of basil (something I haven't been able to repeat since then) and wondered how I could use it. I looked through one of my Italian cookbooks and found a basic recipe for pesto. After purchasing olive oil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts a the local market I prepared my first badge of Pesto alla Genovese. I have since experimented with various ingredients substituting walnuts for pine nuts and using Pecorino instead of Parmesan. The following recipe uses walnuts, resulting in a nuttier taste and a slightly different texture. Use only the freshest ingredients for this flavorful pesto.
3.5 oz walnuts
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
6 oz basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 pinch peperoncino flakes
3 tbsp each grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino
10 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Toast the walnuts at 180 degree Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes and break into smaller pieces (reserve a couple of pieces for garnish).
- Wash herbs and tear into pieces (try to remove stems as much as possible).
- Peel and slice garlic. Grind herbs, garlic, peperoncino and toasted nuts in food processor adding the olive oil and grated cheese until you have the desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper and pour into a clean bowl.
- Cook fettuccine until al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pesto. Mix thoroughly.
- Place pasta on individual plates and top with several tablespoons of pesto. Garnish with additional walnuts and some extra cheese on the side.