I was lucky enough to spend the fall semester of my junior year of college in Florence—actually I lived in Sesto Fiorentino, 9 miles outside Firenze. We lived and took classes in a villa with frescos on the walls. Sometimes we could hear Nino (our opera-singing chef) singing in the kitchen, while we sat in class…I could go on and on about villa life and my adventures in Europe, but it’s probably better if I don’t. Instead, I’ll share Nino’s recipe for the best pesto in the universe.
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
3 oz. (more or less) chopped green beans
at least 12 fresh basil leaves per person
1 tbsp pine nuts (walnuts work if you’re in a bind)
3 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese (OR 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp shredded pecorino cheese)
½ cup EVOO
2 cloves garlic
1. Fill a large pasta pot with water. Add potatoes and green beans and bring to a boil.
2. Add pasta and cook until it’s al dente.
3. Meanwhile, place basil, cheese, nuts and garlic in a food processor and blend. Add EVOO and blend again.
4. Pour the pesto sauce into a large bowl.
5. When the pasta’s done drain it.* Then add the pasta and vegetables to the pesto sauce and toss to cover.
*If your pesto is too pasty, add 3 tbsp of the pasta water—unless you’re using brown rice pasta. In that case either add 3 tbsp tap water or 3 tbsp of the vegetable-y water (reserve the water before you add the pasta). I rarely add water.