Monday, 17 January 2011

Today, 17 January, and our favourite International Day of Italian Cuisine!

Why January 17th?
January 17 is a date of great symbolic importance. It’s the day of the catholic feast of Sant’Antonio Abate, one of the most popular saints of Italy, the patron of domestic animals, but also of butchers and salami makers. On this day, according to tradition, the Italian Carnival begins, that period of the year during which, since unmemorable time, it’s “licet insanire,” transgressions are tolerated and good, rich food is celebrated and, along with this: cooking.

That is one of our favorite days of the year because we celebrate with others traditional products and dishes straight from the sunny Italy but we have already written about it before. That is why today will be short and concise and to the point... Pesto alla Genovese... Already known in ancient times, passed through various transformations. But more beautifully described history of pesto can be found here.

We have done our pesto according to the traditional recipe:

Essential equipment
1 marble mortar
1 wooden pestle

100 gm of fresh Genovese basil. 
30 gm pine nuts 
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 
10 g flaky salt
80 cc Extra Virgin Olive Oil from 

Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a paper towel but don’t rub them.
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
The preparation must be done as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation problems.

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 flavour.

What we enjoyed most, that although we do not live in Italy, we were able to buy a Basil Genovese here - hurraa ... :) It was worse with garlic, but the one we used is as gentle as that recommended in the traditional recipe. According to the tradition, we used a mortar and peslte. It's amazing how quickly the kitchen space was filled with aroma of crushed basil with other ingrredients ...ahhh ...

But the pesto itself is not all! It is primarily a great addition to the pasta and other dishes... That is why we made a pasta alla Daria today ... :) The recipe simply came to my mind (although I think someone had already done it). Staying in at the atmosphere of green colour, which dominates in pesto, I decided to use the same green additions to our dish... The second reason was of course the contents of our fridge. Because food is never wasted in our house, then obviously we used the remaining vegetables with pesto in the lead role.

Tagliatelle with greens and pesto

Ingredients for 2 large servings:
Pasta Taglliatelle
3 tablespoons pesto homemade of course :)
fresh baby spinach
green peas (frozen)
green beans (frozen)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper (to taste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10g freshly grated Parmigano Reggiano

Cook pasta 'al dente' with good spoon of olive oil. In the meantime, warm up a frying pan and add a little bit of olive oil, together with rinsed fresh spinach showered with pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. This will help to release spinach's aroma. After 2 minutes add the beans, and the peas and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander. Now sprinkle pasta with a little bit of olive oil to taste. Then add the pasta to the vegetables and throw in 3 tablespoons of the pesto. Mix all ingredients thoroughly but gently so that all is well combined with pesto - about 3 - 5 minutes. Serve on a plates and decorate with a pinch of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

It's done! We consumed it with our favorite Pinot Grigio .... Deliciozo .... :)


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