Essential Pasta Sauces
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Serves 4 as entrée, 6 as first course
1 lb pasta (recommended: spaghetti or linguine)
3 oz fresh basil leaves, dark leaves discarded and thick stems removed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/4 cup pine nuts
A handful of walnuts (optional)
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, coarsely grated
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)*
Heat water to boil for the pasta. Wash and dry the basil in a salad spinner.
In a food processor, combine garlic, pine nuts, and walnuts (if using). Blend briefly to form a dry paste. Add basil and blend again, wiping down the sides of the mixing bowl to combine. With the mixing lid back on, turn on the food processor and slowly add half the olive oil through the open shaft. Add the Parmesan and the rest of the oil and continue blending until it creates the right consistency. Taste for salt and pepper, add more olive oil if necessary, and blend again.
When water is boiling, add a healthy handful of coarse salt, stir to dissolve, and then add the pasta. When it has finished cooking (al dente, of course!), drain it and return to pot (reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water to blend with the sauce). Add pesto sauce and cherry tomatoes, mix, and serve with extra Parmesan (finely grated) as garnish.
*Infuse more flavor by marinating the tomatoes for 20-30 minutes in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, julienned basil, sea salt, and pepper.