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Try this delicous Italian recipe from Two Greedy Italians
This particular dish is very characteristic of one of the most interesting coastal regions of Italy – Liguria. It must be something to do with the air, but the best basil in Italy grows here, usually the small-leaved type, thus the famous sauce, pesto al Genovese (from Genoa). Both pasta and pesto are best made at home from scratch – only in this way will you obtain the desired taste and texture.
To make the pasta, place the flour in a bowl or on a work surface, and make a well in the centre. Add the egg, yolks, half the oil and a pinch of salt. Firstly with a fork and then with your hands, gradually mix the flour with the eggs and oil until you obtain a rough paste. If necessary, add a splash of water. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until it is smooth, not sticky. Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 15–30 minutes.
Divide the dough into quarters. If you have a pasta machine, put the dough through the rollers gradually, starting with the highest setting, until you have silky sheets about 1mm thick, or less. Cut the sheets of pasta into large squares, about 15 x 15cm, and dust with flour to prevent them sticking together.
To make the pesto, put the basil leaves in a large mortar with the salt, pine kernels and garlic. Grind down with the pestle until it becomes a fine pulp. Start to add the oil and continue grinding until the mixture is smooth. Add the Parmesan and mix well.
Put the pasta sheets one by one into a saucepan with plenty of lightly salted boiling water, and add the remaining oil. Cook until al dente, about 3 minutes or so.
Put about 3–4 tablespoons of pesto in a large pan and warm up gently with the same amount of water from the pasta pan, which will dilute it a bit. Remove the pasta sheets from the water using a perforated scoop, and put them into the sauce. Add the rest of the sauce, mix well, and serve with a few extra basil leaves to garnish.
Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy By Antonio Carluccio & Gennaro Contaldo, Published By Quadrille (£20, Hardback)
Photos ©David Loftus
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