Adapted from The Italian Country Table (Scribner 1999) by Lynne Rossetto Kasper copyright 1999 Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Serves 8 as a first course; 4 to 6 as a main dish.
I watched a cook on a horse farm in Umbria make a sauce right on her cutting board with wild chives she picked just outside the back door. Mincing everything may not follow traditional pesto technique which calls for crushing in a mortar, but I like the idea of this fast sauce made on a cutting board. Adjust the herbs with what you find at the market. Try this over rice and with couscous.
1. Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile pile the salt on a chopping board. Crush garlic into it with the side of a large knife. Chop fine. Chop in the herbs and half the onion until minced very fine. Then coarsely chop in pine nuts. Blend with 2 tablespoons oil right on the board, seasoning to taste.
2. Fine chop remaining onion. In a large skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil, adding the onion and saute to soften it. Cook pasta at a fierce boil, stirring often, to tender but still firm to the bite.
3. Drain pasta. Scrape up the chopped mixture from the cutting board into the saute pan. Warm for only a few seconds over medium heat to let flavors blossom -- do not cook. Add pasta off the heat, tossing with the pesto and the cheese. Taste again for seasoning and serve hot. Wine: A full-bodied Umbria white like Lungarotti’s Torre di Giano, Castello della Sala’s Cervaro della Sala, or Bigi’s Torricella Orviet
This recipe was featured on MPR's Tuesday Night Kitchen, a weekday online-only food program from The Splendid Table.
Andrea Reusing is the creator of the restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the book Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. In this installment of The Key 3, she shares with Lynne Rossetto Kasper the techniques behind three of her favorite recipes: Turnip Soup, Overnight Braised Short Ribs and Tomato Salad.