Pesto Genovese is one of the pillars of Italian culinary culture. Simple, garlicky, herbal, lemony and irresistibly fresh, it's one of my favorite things to make when I want something that tastes sophisticated but I don't want to "cook." All that said, I think the thing that I love most about pesto is that it's adaptable to whatever you have in the kitchen. Middle of winter? Try arugula and watercress instead of basil. Don't have pine nuts? Try almonds or walnuts. Run out of Parmigiano-Reggiano? Pecorino or Manchego work well too. Want something extra luxurious? Our chef Genesis likes to add a little heavy cream to the pan, to gild the lily as it were.
So if you're looking for an easy dinner, try our walnut and basil pesto below. Or show us what you can do, and tag us in your favorite pesto variation on Instagram or Facebook.
2 cups basil
1/3 cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 pound Semolina Artisanal Pasta (any cut)
3 tbsp heavy cream*
Put basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to mix. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified.
Cook pasta in rapidly boiling, heavily salted water. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
In a sauté pan on medium heat, add pesto, pasta and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or pasta water. Cook until the pasta is coated, about two minutes.
Top with chopped walnuts, torn basil and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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