Nifty Noodles: My creamy green pesto with tagliatelle.
When the days are cold and dark like today, nothing beats coming home to a bowl of steaming pasta, immersed in a creamy sauce. Take off your shoes, throw your coat on the floor and let go. However stressful your day. When comfort is over due, I rely on a trusty old friend to nourish my heart and mind. Pesto. The green sauce of crushed basil, mashed pine nuts and soft cheese, enriched with a good olive oil and the lightness of lemon juice, has its special kind of magic. While I like my pesto vibrant and strong on a hot summer’s day, my winter pesto takes on more subtle notes. Creamy and soft, mild and rich, my creamy green pesto with tagliatelle is done in a spell. Take the extra minute or two, to make this most comforting of all sauces. You are finally home.
There is a sauce for every season. For every time and every dish. Some of them elaborate, some simple. Some of them light and fresh and others rich and substantial. But all of them are good. You will never hear anyone complain about the fact that there was more sauce than absolutely necessary. Especially not with the sauce of the day. This post is short. I have exams coming along and, in all fairness, there is not much to say about this sauce other than: why haven’t you tried it yet?
This pesto is not a pesto of summer. It is not as fragrant and poignant as summer pesto. It is not as intense in colour. Not as sharp and vibrant. And it is not as runny. My creamy green pesto, is a winter pesto. It is comfort in a jar and on a plate. The nutty notes of toasted pine nuts. A slight touch of acidity. The warmth of basil, that is supported by the creaminess of the parmesan. This is a pesto that is made to be enjoyed in the comfort of your living room, or potentially an even cozier place. The recipe calls for you to use pestle and mortar to crush the living daylight out of the basil. I would strongly encourage you to follow this advice, a handheld blender or regular blender might thwart the result too much. When blended, good olive oil can often take on bitter notes. If you don’t have either pestle or mortar, or both, think about first chopping the basil leaves and then using any kind of solid, long object to mash them further. A mortar is nothing more but a heavy bowl and a pestle something to exert blunt force – I trust that you can improvise something appropriate.
My creamy green pesto with tagliatelle
Basil Lemon Garlic Olive oil Pine nuts Salt Pepper Parmesan
For a portion of pesto that would be enough to mix with about 2 portions of cooked pasta, I use 40 ml of very good olive oil (Seriously, spend the extra three bucks, they will pay off), 30 g of fresh basil leafs, 30 g of grated parmesan and 30 g of pine nuts. If you feel like making your own pasta, have a look here.
Using pestle and mortar, work the basil leaves and half of the olive oil to a thin paste. To speed up the process add a bit of coarse sea-salt. Toast the pine-nuts in a fat-free pan, they burn easily, so shake them constantly. Add the pine nuts to the mortar and work into a thick paste. Add a bit of minced garlic (go easy on the garlic, you can always add more later). Add the grated parmesan and work into a very thick paste. Add a few tablespoons of water, a good squeeze of lemon juice and the remaining oil to the mix and give a thorough stir. Add more salt if necessary. Add black pepper. Add more lemon juice or water to cut through the richness of the pesto.
Bring the water for the tagliatelle to a boil, use generous quantities of salt – you are rich like that. Cook the pasta about al dente (so with a bit of a bite), drain and mix with the pesto. Scatter over some additional pine nuts (toasted) and enjoy.