Basil Pesto with Broken Lasagne

As with many Italian recipes, the quality of the ingredients is paramount, especially when there are so few of them. Make sure to use a good quality parmigiano reggiano cheese, a fruity extra virgin olive oil, and don’t skip on toasting the pine nuts. It makes all the difference. If you care to have a more vibrant green pesto, blanch the basil first and plunge it into an ice bath, squeezing out the extra water before proceeding. Personally, I don’t mind the darker color, and this extra step does not affect the flavor, so do what you like.

Basil Pesto with Broken Lasagne

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
As with many Italian recipes, the quality of the ingredients is paramount, especially when there are so few of them. Make sure to use a good quality parmigiano reggiano cheese, a fruity extra virgin olive oil, and don't skip on toasting the pine nuts. It makes all the difference. If you care to have a more vibrant green pesto, blanch the basil first and plunge it into an ice bath, squeezing out the extra water before proceeding. Personally, I don't mind the darker color, and this extra step does not affect the flavor, so do what you like.
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Course Main Course
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves (50 grams), washed and spun dry
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 tablespoons for the pasta water
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus extra for serving
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lasagne noodles, not no-boil, broken into large triangles

Instructions
 

  • Begin by bringing your water to a boil for the pasta. I suggest 5 quarts of water in a large stock pot for a pound of pasta. Add two tablespoons of kosher salt to season the cooking water, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot to keep it warm. Be careful of adding the salt to the water if it is vigorously boiling as it will bubble over. Either add it before it comes to a boil, or turn off the heat to add the salt.
  • Place the pine nuts in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook them, shaking the pan, until they become a medium golden color. It should take about 6 minutes. They can burn quickly, so keep a close eye on them.
  • Crush the garlic with the side of a large chef’s knife and place it in your food processor. Add the pine nuts, it’s okay if they are still a bit warm, and the salt. Process, scraping down the sides two or three times, until a chunky paste forms. Add the basil next and process again, scraping the sides as necessary, until it is mostly broken down. Finally add the cheese and process for another few seconds to incorporate.
  • With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a thin stream. Let the machine continue to run until the mixture is very creamy and smooth, at least a minute.
  • Return your pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking them until they are al dente. Scoop out a cup of pasta water, then drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add the pesto to the pot with the noodles, then pour a little of the reserved pasta water (about ¼ cup) into the food processor, sloshing it around to get any bits stuck to the vessel, then pour that into the pasta. Stir over the lowest heat and taste for seasoning. It may need a touch more salt. Add a bit more pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed. It should be loose and creamy. If you add too much water, you can always cook it down, so don’t worry too much about the exact right amount. I like a thinner sauce that the noodles can slide around in and I can sop up with a piece of crusty bread, but if you prefer a thicker pesto then don’t add as much water.
  • Serve the pasta hot, passing extra cheese at the table.
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