Orecchiette Pasta with Pesto
Competing with my love for pasta and dessert is my love for BASIL. I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE the smell of basil and how fresh tasting it is. . pairing pasta with basil. . how wonderful is that?
We tried several times to grow our own basil. How hard could it be, really? I purchased the little basil plant from Trader Joe’s. We planted it in this big planter my husband bought (we were also growing our own tomatoes at the time in a separate planter and the tomatoes did ok). And I don’t know if it was because of the heat and sun or not enough water but that little guy didn’t stand a chance. I think I went through 5 basil plants before I gave up and so now I just buy my basil from the grocery store. So sad. Maybe I will attempt to grow some more one day.
So, back to BASIL. . pairing pasta with basil. . how wonderful is that? What better combination could there be? Thinking that pesto is too fattening? Well, it’s not (in moderation). Pesto can enhance your health and nutrient intake.
So, to celebrate my love for PASTA + BASIL = PESTO LOVE, here is a super simple pesto recipe. I discovered Orecchiette pasta, the “ear” shaped pasta or the little “disc” shaped pasta earlier this year. I immediately loved it and think they are so cute! Because the pasta is shaped like discs, they are like little pockets that hold the sauce or in this case, the pesto! Also, my youngest daughter (1.5) loves eating these and picking up each pasta with her tiny little fingers. She gobbles them all up!
If you discover that you like the orecchiette pasta, here is another recipe, Orecchiette Bolognese. This recipe is TO DIE FOR it’s so good. Hope you enjoy!
Orecchiette Pasta with Pesto!
- 1- ¾ pound orecchiette pasta (you can use any kind; spaghetti also works really nicely with pesto)
- 2 - 2½ cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2-3 cloves garlic (your preference)
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1-1½ cups good extra-virgin olive oil, divided (some is for storing the pesto)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ - 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used a Parmesan, romano & asiago cheese blend that I already had here at home)
- ¼ cup walnuts (optional)
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with a little olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
- To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. OR just rinse well with water and dry with a paper towel. (This home girl does not have a salad spinner). If you need to store them: store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
- Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil (I used about a cup) into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano (or whatever cheese you are using) and puree for a minute. I also added the salt and pepper into the food processor but you can season later when serving. Up to you!
Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
To SERVE: Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and mix well. Season with salt & pepper to taste (if needed), and serve at room temperature.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.