Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pinoli e Pesto Genovese

A few months back, we set out to gather pine nuts with our friends in the hills of Sicily. The landscape was amazing as we searched for those very characteristic Mediterranean Pines (Stone Pine or Umbrella Pine).  These raw pine nuts grown in the wild are adored throughout the world for their taste and texture.  And here they are, literally at our fingertips! 

We then passed through the town of Novara for a pick-nic lunch and enjoyed the shade and beauty of this sweet place between the Peloritani and the Nebrodi Mountains.  In Novara, during the time of Carnival, the traditional “Gioco of the Maiorchino” takes place, where wheels of maiurchèa (a seasoned pecorino cheese) are rolled down along the town streets. People gather and follow this rolling masked ball through the many twists and turns of the town.
Rocca Leone

Now, being that I am in Genova, what more traditional recipe is there than the well known Pesto Genovese?  I have made my fair share of pesto, but I've learned that there is nothing like the Pesto Genovese.  The very best Genovese basil is said to be grown in Prà, where the basil is distinguished for its small, oval shaped, fine green leaves. Their perfume is - with respect to other types of basil - exceptionally delicate.  Prà happens to be very close to where I am, so my friend Giovanna picked some up on her way over to Gabriella's house for a day of pesto making. 

To truly make this pesto, one needs to use the marble mortar and wooden pestle with diligence and patience.  The tender leaves of the basil should never get near a heat source and a mixer could give off heat causing the leaves to wilt.  Unfortunately we did not have the proper utensils, but I'll work on that for the next time! 

Pesto for 600 g of pasta

50 grammi di foglioline di basilico.
Olio extravergine di oliva - ½ bicchiere
Needs to be from the origen of Liguria or a product of Italy
Formaggio grattugiato - 6 spoons of  Parmigiano Reggiano and 2 of Pecorino DOP
- 2
Pinoli - 1 spoon
Sale grosso - few grains
Grind the pine nuts with the garlic, then add the basil.  Add a touch of salt and the ground cheeses.  Taste for salt and enjoy! 

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