then making a large batch of pesto and freezing the extra is a great way to extend this rich,
summery flavor into the start of chilly autumn days.
"Pesto" means "pounded," from the verb pestare ("to pound"), because the old-fashioned way to make pesto (and the one that many cooks still swear by)
is to pound the ingredients -- a mixture of aromatic herbs, salt, garlic, olive oil, cheese, and sometimes nuts -- with a mortar
and pestle to form a paste, which could then be thinned with some water, vinegar, broth or verjuice to form a sauce. And not just a sauce for pasta,
but for all kinds of foods. The origins for such a condiment date back at least as far as the ancient Romans, who made a pesto called moretum to eat
with a mixture of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Pecorino, and eaten with either dried trenette (a long, thin, flattish pasta similar to tagliatelle)
or fresh trofie, a short, chewy twisted pasta -- with chopped potatoes and green beans cooked together with the pasta and all tossed together with
the pesto sauce.
Parmigiano and Pecorino for the nice balance that gives between the tangy-tart Parmigiano and the salty, pungent Pecorino.
extra-virgin olive oil, good pine nuts (avoid short, round, dark-tipped pine nuts from the Chinese species pinus armandii,
which can cause the short-lived, but distressing, "pine mouth" syndrome, which can leave a bitter, metallic taste in your mouth for up to two weeks,
and look for longer, thinner, evenly-colored pine nuts, such as American-grown and Italian-grown varieties, which do not cause "pine mouth"),
genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano (see this article for tips on how to spot the real deal) and Pecorino, and fresh garlic.
with a mezzaluna, with a food processor, and with a handheld immersion blender, and I prefer the latter two methods.
The mortar-and-pestle version was just too chunky for my taste. I like the way a smoother pesto emulsifies and gives a silky feel to the final dish.
2 tablespoons pine nuts (see notes above regarding pine nuts)
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated
Parmigiano Reggiano (a
Microplane grater works very well for this, because it grates the cheese so thin that it melts instantly
when it touches the hot pasta or pasta cooking water)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino (Romano or Sardo)
and add a bit of the water to the cooked pasta together with the pesto sauce, to thin it, melt the cheeses and help it to adhere to the pasta.
I love to add halved fresh cherry tomatoes or quartered cocktail tomatoes as well, when I'm mixing the pesto sauce with the pasta.
together with potatoes and green beans that are cooked together in the pot with the pasta. This is called pesto "avvantiaggiato"
(pesto with benefits) or pesto "ricco" (rich pesto).
in an air-tight glass container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze extra pesto in ice-cube trays,
then transfer the cubes of frozen pesto to a zipper-lock freezer bag for long-term freezer storage.
That way, you can take out enough pesto for just one or two servings of pasta, if desired.