Monday, March 7, 2011

Pasta al Pesto -- Garlicky Ambrosia

Buon Appetito!

Mom made the best pesto.  Even after I left home, I asked for it every single time I visited her.  It just was not a real visit home if I didn't get a plateful of Mom's pasta with pesto.  She marveled that something "so simple" could make me so happy. 

I've still not figured out how to duplicate her pesto.  And believe me, I've tried.  She didn't have a recipe; she cooked by "eyeing" the ingredients.  And she never used basil, but rather parsley, and any type of pasta that was on sale.  This dish was not the haute cuisine of the refined gentry; it was the fare of common folk.  No matter.  It was always manna from heaven!

The Italian Notebook, an English-language newsletter and website maintained by folks living in Italy, just published an article about pesto which originated in the Ligurian Region, specifically from Genova (Genoa).  Mom's family came from Varese Ligure, a small village about two hours' drive east from Genova. 

The article describes how fresh green beans, potatoes and pasta were prepared, then dressed with pesto.  Mom would include whatever vegetables were in season, but my favorite was the green beans and potatoes.

Now, I understand that her "recipe" was handed down through her mother who learned it from her mother in Italy.  I'd never really thought about how Mom learned to make the dish.  Like most kids, I'd just assumed she always knew it.  So having the article describe the regional tradition and method was the perfect way to tie our family fare to the Old Country.

Here's the website if you'd like to read more:  While you're there, sign up for the newsletter.  It offers so much about the Italian lifestyle and culture that we haven't necessarily experienced here in the States.

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