Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creating New Pesto Sauces

The Italian verb pestare means to grind. The traditional dish, Pesto Genovese, is composed of hand-ground basil leaves with garlic, olive oil, Pecorino Romano cheese and pine nuts. A traditional chef will use a mortar and pestle (pestle sounds like the word pestare, right?)

Of course, you can prepare a less traditional and less expensive pesto out of almost any other green leaf. I will often make a pesto sauce out of extra spinach. Recently, I had left-over arugula that I bought for lunch salads. Not having the time to hand-grind it, I threw it in the food processor with some whole garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Pecorino Romano chunks and pine nuts. (I know, I should have done it by hand.)

The resulting sauce, which doesn’t need to be cooked, can be seen in the picture tossed over strozzapreti pasta (the name means “strangles priests”) that I bought at the Italian Store. The curled shape of the pasta nicely held the sauce in. Since we weren’t going out after dinner, I added extra garlic and it was particularly spicy.

The best part of dinner was my husband asking, “You made this up?” Sure, why not? Tell us about your favorite made-up own dishes inspired by the classics and share with us below. 

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