Cooking for family and friends is like performing an art. You design and produce a dish. Then you serve it up and get an instant reaction – good or bad, but hopefully ecstatic.
Serving up the freshest ingredients in a healthy, tasty and nutritious meal is one of the most satisfying things imaginable. At least, that’s how I feel when I prepare great food for friends and family. They never complain!
Great ingredients are the initial point for successful and amazingly tasty meals. Fresh, natural foods always stir up delicious zest and that is why you should have the best of them readily available for any dish that you might prepare.
I would say that this statement is particularly true for Italian cuisine and more generally in Mediterranean food. It is difficult to produce a successful Italian dish if you are not using fresh and exotic ingredients.
To me, that’s where the true essence of Italian food lies: a masterly blend of simple, fresh ingredients harmonised in an balanced combination that will delight even the most demanding of foodies’ palates. Kristina from Dapiero Ristorante writes:
Freshness is an influential part of Italian cooking and it goes a long way towards producing that classic taste of authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
Now, you must be wondering why am I talking about the freshness of ingredients. Because the dish I am about to present - the classic and popular Spaghetti with Pesto Genovese - can’t really be successfully produced if you choose to go for the wallet-friendly ingredients instead of the freshest and healthiest ones. Don’t you believe me?
Have you heard of the history of Genovese Pesto Sauce?
Pasta al Pesto Genovese is a traditional dish from Liguria, a coastal region of the north-western part of Italy. It is a quick and tasty main dish that can be easily prepared at home,
typically using 100% Italian Olive oil. An appetising and feel-good meal to have all through the year, it is particularly suitable for the hot summer season.
The origin of pesto is ancient, and it goes way back to the time of Maritime Republics of the Mediterranean Basin in the Middle Ages. At that time, the Maritime republic of Genoa, one of the four queens of the Mediterranean Sea, as opposed to Venice which had the monopoly on the spices, chose to focus on aromatic herbs and on the Regal Grass, which is today commonly known as Basil.
Spaghetti al Pesto Genovese
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ingredients for Four
400 g of spaghetti
150 g of Organic Bio/Olio Timperio
30 g of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
70 g of freshly grated Italian Parmigiano Cheese
50 g of basil leaves
15 g of pine nuts/ pinoli
Salt to taste
Nonna’s Secret Ingredients (Shh!)
A clove of garlic
200 g of green beans
250 g of potatoes peeled and diced
Traditionally, pesto is made using mortar and pestle. However, if your kitchen lacks these tools, you can alternatively use a simple blender. Making the ultimate pesto is a very easy job!
First of all, put the blender blades in a freezer for a few minutes before putting them into use. This will prevent them from heating up too much while in use, guaranteeing that the bright green color of the basil won’t fade away easily during the preparation of the pesto sauce.
Then, place the blades in the blender and add the basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano, pecorino and a pinch of salt. The original recipe also includes garlic, but adding it or not is a matter of personal preference.
If you are craving to taste the authentic pesto, the one with garlic, then it's time to add it in. Just smash it with the blade of a knife and peel off the skin easily.
Operate the blender and slowly pour in a healthy extra virgin olive oil, such as the Organic Bio/Olio Timperio. The sauce that will eventually appear out of it will be our wonderful pesto, ready to season our most favourite and delicious pasta dish.
At this point, pour the water into a cooking pot and, when it comes to a boil, add in the salt and and toss the pasta well to ensure it doesn’t stick. Follow the cooking instructions and time recommended on the the pasta package to make sure it is cooked “al-dente” for a full immersion into the Italian dining experience.
When the pasta is done, all you have to do is drain it and toss well with the pesto that you have prepared previously.
Serve with a drizzle of flavored extra virgin oil, such as the selected Timperio truffle olive oil and voila, our Ligurian main course is done.
A few words about the Original Genoa’s Recipe
To best respect the originality of the recipe, green beans and boiled potatoes can be added to our dish, creating the essential "Pesto Advantage".
Interestingly, if you order pasta with pesto in Genoa, this will certainly be the recipe that would be served: before adding the pasta, in a pan of boiling water, put the diced potatoes and green beans that have been cut in half. In the same cooking water, after about three or four minutes, add the spaghetti to be cooked for the amount of time indicated on the package.
The procedure will be the same as the previous one, eventually obtaining a dish even richer in flavor and crunchiness.
To make this recipe unique, the quality of the ingredients is of the absolute essence. Use exclusively freshly picked basil, aged 18 months Italian Parmigiano and premium grade extra virgin olive oils such as organic Bio/Olio extra virgin olive oil Timperio.
How to store the Pesto Sauce?
To ensure the success of your dish, mix the pasta with the sauce immediately once the pasta is ready. This locks in the freshness and uniqueness of the flavours and allows the pasta to absorb the sauce better.
To preserve the freshness of the pesto, cover the sauce with a layer of extra virgin olive oil in an airtight container. In this way, your pesto will last for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.
Alternatively, freeze it in jars that should be thawed at room temperature when ready to use.
Buon appetito and keep following us for more authentic Italian recipes!