Friday, August 17, 2012

A Table Tidbit

Back in 2009, hubby and I were thrilled to be able to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in a really big way. We went to Italy! It had been a dream of ours for some time, and when the realization hit that everyone else in our family had been to Europe - our parents, our sibs, our kids - well, we just decided to go! And it was awesome.

We picked the itinerary we did because we really wanted to experience Cinque Terre, five little towns built into the coast on the Italian Riviera. This area is known for its walking trail that connects the five villages, and through some miscommunication between hubby and myself, I found us on the trail bright and early one morning, with his intent of hiking the entire length. 
It was absolutely filled with stunning views and unforgettable experiences. It was also one of the most difficult things I've done in my life! Eight hours later, we reached the last town and hopped the fast train back to our starting place. As a reward, it seemed, there was a lovely dinner planned by the family that owned our hotel.

The highlight for me was the pesto-making lesson by Felicita Pascuale, the grandma of the family. Of course, made by hand with a mortar and pestle, it was the most amazing pesto I had ever tasted.
Remembering Felicita and her pesto, and as part of this month's celebration of the {herbal} table, I have a challenge for you! If you've never made your own pesto, would you give it a try, and link up about your experience?? If you do make it, would you tell us about it? How do you enjoy using it? Any special tweaks to your recipe?
It starts with the simplest of ingredients. And rather than mortar and pestle, I use my modern food processor. Here's my basic recipe, from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

  • 2 C fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 4 medium-size cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
  • 1 C olive oil
  • 1 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1
    Process the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade - or in 2 batches in a blender - until finely chopped.
  • 2
    With the machine running, pour in the oil in a thin, steady stream.
  • 3
    Add the cheese, a big pinch of salt, and a liberal grinding of pepper. Process briefly to combine. Remove to a bowl and cover until ready to use.
    (or divide among small containers & freeze)

    I hope you give it a whirl! Feel free to link up here!


  1. Its a dream of mine to someday go to Italy. Lucky you.

  2. Mmm, now I want to go see if my basil survived the drought. (Mint did. Mint never dies. Got any mint recipes?) Oh, and also? I so want to do that exact walking trail.

  3. I love pesto but it would taste better in Italy! Beautiful!

  4. Oh I will, I've only made it once before and it didn't turn out well, so I am willing to try again! What an awesome trip!

  5. i want this for dinner! i have basil in my garden... i just need the pine nuts! off to the market i go!

  6. cinque terre was amazing!!! I was there in 2010 (jan) and it was complete deserted which was fabulous for us, but the hiking was closed due to mud/rock slides -- best pesto i've EVER had

    its a hidden gem, cinque terre, so its nice to see other people enjoy it!

  7. My husband makes his own version of pesto in the processor too, usually to go on a batch of his pasta which he makes completely from scratch. There is nothing more delicious than his capellini. My mouth is starting to water just thinking about it...

  8. Oh I do love a good pesto, and I always whizz it in the blender - life's too short to pestle and mortar it! I've used both rocket and spinach in mine, and used cashews and pecorino as well

  9. I LOVE pesto! I make mine with everything you listed here, in a food processor. It's good with walnuts or pine nuts.
    And that Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook is a classic. Have you ever tried the marinated tomato, brie and BASIL salad on page 152? OMG it's good. Don't forget the bread.

  10. I walked Cinque Terre in 2008! Stunning scenery! We stayed for four nights in nearby Santa Margerhita! Your pesto looks yummy!

  11. We make pesto with basil when it's in season and we've made it with spinach too but now we also make pest with garlic scapes! On pasta and pizza it is amazing!

  12. This Felicita loves both pesto AND Italy!