Orecchiette With Basil and Pistachio Pesto and Green Paesano Beans
An excuse? Yes, I have several excuses for not having posted in a month. My most obvious is summer with two kids at home, one a very small (yet swiftly growing) infant, but the biggest hold on my culinary creativity has been a major move. Several weeks ago movers arrived at our doorstep in Grottaglie to pack us up to move to the other side of the world, Seattle that is. We returned to the hotel where we had first begun our Pugliese adventure and have been in a suburb of Seattle, in temporary housing, for almost two weeks now. Our furniture and the rest of our “goods” won’t be here until September, so this neutral colored apartment is home for now.
This gorgeous pasta was the last meal that I made in our Italian home, with all of those glorious ingredients. I have been looking forward to this move, but I knew from the moment that the decision was final that I would miss the freshness as well as the low cost of the food in Puglia. Gorgeous cacioricotta, fresh basil and unique local green beans. These orecchiette weren’t made by hand and their freshness is from a refrigerator package from the grocery store, but they are good, very very good. Don’t get me started on the olive oil, the one thing we meant to bring with us, but with the chaos of leaving we forgot to buy it. Our last month in Grottaglie we were using the olive oil that our neighbors had pressed from their own trees and given to us, poured into a plastic fanta bottle, to die for.
I really don’t want to complain, the Asian food section alone at the grocery stores here make me swoon and cilantro, oh cilantro, I’ve missed you so. I can’t deny that food is expensive in America, very expensive. Mediocre sliced bread costs 4 times what freshly baked artisinal bread cost in Puglia, fruits and vegetables are precious jewels and I knew that seafood would be more expensive, it is everywhere but Puglia. I’m already getting creative in the kitchen, despite my coil stovetops, come September I’ll have a gas stove again and will be fully settled in. In the meantime I’ll post my last few recipes from Puglia, maybe a few new ones here and there.
Orecchiette With Basil, Pistachio Pesto & Green Paesano Beans
adapted from The New York Times
For the pesto
- 2 cups, tightly packed, basil leaves (2 ounces)
- 2 heaped tablespoons unsalted pistachios (1 ounce)
- Salt to taste
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, green shoots removed if present
- 2 ounces freshly grated cacioricotta (1/2 cup)
- Freshly ground pepper
For the pasta
- 1 pound orecchiette
- 1 pound mixed green paesano beans, trimmed and cut in 3/4-inch lengths (you can use all green beans)
- Pasta water (about 1/4 cup)
Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile grind the basil leaves and pistachios in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a mortar and pestle. Add salt to taste and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend or grind until smooth.
Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or through a garlic press and add to the basil mixture. Blend together. Add the cheese and blend together. Taste, adjust salt and add pepper. Transfer to a large pasta bowl.
When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the orecchiette. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and after 5 minutes add the green beans. Boil the orecchiette and beans until the pasta is cooked al dente, another 5 to 6 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pot and add 2 to 4 tablespoons to the pesto. Stir with a fork or a whisk until the pesto is smooth (add more water if desired). Drain the pasta and beans, toss with the pesto and serve.
Advance preparation: The pesto can be made ahead through step 1 and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen for a couple of weeks.
Three Years Ago: Sarago in Cartoccio, Spaghetti con Fagiolini Paesani, Panzanella Pugliese, Insalata Fredda di Seppioline, Cole Slaw, Sarde Incinte in Agrodolce, Carrot Coconut Cake & Fried Zucchini Flowers
Four Years Ago: Tagliatelle with Rhubarb, Cranberry Bean Salad with Celery, Basil and Mint, Spaghetti Integrali con Zucchine Gratugiate e Fior di Zucca & Pizza with Ricotta, Zucchini, Olives and Provolone
Six Years Ago: Baby Artichokes and Scallops Risotto, Couscous Salad with Yellow Zucchini, Farfalle with Zucchini Flowers and Saffron, Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas, Casareccie with Pattypan Squash, Daniel Island Farmers Market, Boiled P-Nuts & Panzanella