|Pasta with Chopping Board Pistachio Pesto
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 and pepper.
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 way.
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.
10 minutes prep time; 10 minutes stove time
Equally good hot from the pot or at room temperature
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
From The 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