Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
As I sat there on the wharf, in an aluminum chair looking down at my menu, I could smell the salt in the air and hear the water lapping against the wood of the dock not ten feet away. My soon-to-be husband sat across from me saying, “choose whatever two things you want and I will eat your second choice.” I decided on the pesto pizza and pasta for him. It was our first time to Genova and the first time I would taste their most famous invention: pesto alla Genovese. We waited an unbearably long time in those uncomfortable chairs; finally as the waiter arrived with my pizza and his pasta, I looked down at the plate he had slid in front of me and I was slightly underwhelmed. What was I thinking getting a pizza with just pesto? That’s not lunch, that’s a snack! First impressions failed me however, as the pesto ended up being fresh, vibrant and full of flavor. You could taste the sweetness of basil, the grassiness of the olive oil and the bite of the raw garlic. Add in a little white wine and I was in heaven.
There is nothing that can reach back into my memory and pluck a vibrant memory quicker than food. My husband tells me it’s because our brains use something called “holographic associative memory” but I just call it using your senses to travel anywhere in space and time. That is why I grow foods in my garden that I know well and love to eat. I like to grow things which call me to travel to places I’ve been to countless times, or not yet. Whenever I feel the itch to travel and can’t go somewhere far away I make a food dish from that country. We often have Indian food, Italian food and middle eastern food.
One of my favorite summer dishes to make from the garden is Linguine al Pesto Genovese. This is basically pasta with pesto, green beans and potatoes. It’s an easy 15 minute meal and one-pot wonder.
Ingredients for 4 people:
● 1 box (usually a pound or 500g) of linguine
● 2 cups of basil leaves, stems removed. It makes quite a dramatic difference if the leaves were just plucked from a plant that has been in the sun all morning.
● 1 clove of garlic
● ¼ cup of nuts (traditionally pine nuts, but you can branch out; last time I used pecans)
● ¼ cup of olive oil
● ½ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus some more to sprinkle on top
● 1 bunch of green beans
● 1 medium potato
● salt and pepper to taste
Start by bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta; follow the box directions for the time to cook it, usually 11-12 minutes. While waiting for the water is coming to a boil, make the pesto (it’s that quick to make!)
Start by grinding up the nuts and garlic into a fine meal in your mortar and pestle, as that’s what the name “pesto” comes from (OK, I always use a blender or food processor, but it’s a pestle in my imagination). Next add in the basil and process until you start to have a paste. At this point you’ll want to scrape down the bowl of the food processor so that no leaves are left behind. Then with the machine running slowly, add in the olive oil. Lastly add in the parmiggiano, salt and pepper. Do a taste test for saltiness.
When you are done, scoop the pesto into a large bowl and set aside.
Cut the ends of the green beans off and then chop them into ½ inch pieces; cut the potato into sticks, think french fries.
When the pasta water comes to a boil, add in a handful of salt and then the pasta. Wait until the pasta has about ten minutes to go (a couple of minutes) and then add in the green beans and potatoes. Cook everything together until the pasta is al dente and green beans and potatoes are just tender. Using a measuring cup, scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta, beans and potatoes into a colander. Transfer them all into the large bowl you had set aside earlier with the pesto. Mix well the pasta, beans, potatoes, and pesto. Use a little of the reserved pasta water to thin and lubricate if needed. Serve promptly with a grating of parmiggiano reggiano. Make sure you have seconds and thirds for your kids.
This month we welcome KC to the blog to participate in the Being series. We look forward to reading her reflections and seeing the world from her perspective through her posts here each Monday. You can learn more about KC by visiting her blog, Little Homestead in the Desert, where she writes with equal parts humor and heart.
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