New nut harvests are in and, as usual, time to cook is short, which is why
we're having this dish do an encore. Autumn's pesto—this is originally from
the cook at a horse farm in Umbria, who let me hang out in her kitchen.
You'll have it do still more encores.
Pasta with Chopping-Board Pistachio Pesto
Reprinted fromThe Splendid Table's® How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories,
and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto
Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2008). Copyright ©
2008 by American Public Media.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
10 minutes prep time; 10 minutes stove time
Equally good hot from the pot or at room temperature
Pistachios, scallions, garlic, and fresh herbs: who would think this adds
up to a pasta dish? This is actually a riff on an Umbrian home sauce. You
do it all with your trusty knife and one pot. Call it green spaghetti, and
the kids will be all over it. It's also good hangover food.
5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, or to taste
2 large garlic cloves
1 tight-packed cup coarse-chopped fresh chives or scallion tops
4 tight-packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup shelled salted pistachios or almonds
2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
Pasta and Finish:
1 pound imported spaghetti or linguine
1 tablespoon good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fine-chopped red onion
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Asiago or Stella Fontinella cheese
Bring the salted water to a boil.
To make the pesto, pile the salt and pepper on a chopping board. Crush the
garlic into it with the side of a large knife, and fine chop. Add the
chives, basil, and onion, and continue chopping until the pieces are cut
very fine. Add the nuts to the pile and continue cutting until they are
coarsely chopped. Directly on the board, blend in the oil. Taste for salt
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook at a fierce boil, stirring
often, until it is tender but still a little firm to the bite. Scoop out 1
cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Quickly drain the pasta.
Film the empty pasta pot with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place it over
medium heat, and sauté the finely chopped onion in it for 1 minute. Stir
in the pesto. Warm it for only a few seconds over medium heat to let the
flavors blossom do not cook it. Stir in about 1/3 cup of the reserved
pasta water to stretch the sauce. Immediately pull the pot off the heat.
Add the drained pasta to the pot, and toss with the pesto and the cheese,
adding more pasta water if the mixture seems very dry. Taste again for
seasoning, and serve.
This pasta demonstrates a pet theory: chop ingredients together and not
only do you save a lot of time, but their flavors also blend in a unique
You want the pasta cooking water to taste salty, like sea water, to season
the pasta as it cooks. Toss a quarter cup or so of salt into the water as
it starts to heat.
In the Reggio countryside, in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, this
is called the five-minute dessert for the amount of time it takes to mix
the ingredients and get them in the oven. A cross between shortbread and
marzipan, this cookie-like sweet is studded with almonds and pine nuts.
Serve it cut into small diamond shapes with coffee, or top it with fruit
or jam and slice into squares.
Pine Nut and Almond Shortbread
Reprinted from The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's
Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (Scribner, 1999). Copyright ©
1999 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
Makes about 15 pieces or 1 tart, serving 6 to 8
2/3 cup (3.33 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (preferably organic)
2/3 cup (3.33 ounces) cake flour (preferably organic)
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
Generous pinch of salt
1-1/3 cups (5.5 ounces) unblanched whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) pine nuts
1-3/4 sticks (7 ounces) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
About 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square cake pan. In a
large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt. In a food
processor or blender, finely chop two thirds of the almonds, adding the
remaining third toward the last moment so they are only coarsely chopped.
Stir into the dry ingredients along with the pine nuts.
By rubbing with your fingertips, blend in the butter until it is the size
of small peas. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, extracts, and
liqueur. Toss with the dry ingredients only long enough to moisten them.
The dough should be rough, with big crumbs. Lightly pack it into the pan,
without smoothing the top.
Bake 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out with a
crumb or two. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack, top
side up, by first inverting the pan on to a plate. Place a rack on the
inverted shortbread and flip it over right side up. Serve the shortbread
warm or at room temperature. Wrapped airtight, it will keep 2 to 3 days at
To serve, sift the powdered sugar over the pastry and cut into 1-inch
diamonds. Or leave the shortbread whole and cover with a good quality jam
of your choice.
Note: If you don't want to buy a regular bottle of Amaretto for this
recipe, many liquor stores sell small bottles (the size you used to get on
airplanes) that are perfect for recipes calling for just a tablespoon or
two of alcohol.
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