To say that this week was bipolar, that it was in massive need of meds, would be an understatement. After a haze of meetings, presentations, long-nights in the office, and the realization that I’m just too old for uncomfortable shoes, I decided to keep things simple. I cancelled my plans and spent today stretching my limbs in yoga, finalizing my taxes, and chowing on all the comfort foods I adore. From kale and lentil soup to mini red velvet cupcakes to homemade pesto, I feel good filling myself with a few indulgences and a lot of flavor.
And make no mistake — if told that this were my last day on earth and I had but one meal left, I would beg and plead for a bowl of pesto pasta. Marrying the ultimate salve and the verdant sauce is perfection (and why not toss in some salty cheese for good measure?) — I can’t think of a more comforting meal. So instead of fixing the Thai noodles I had planned to make, I instead blasted some tunes and blitzed up some leaves and dove, fork-first, into a delicious meal.
Even though I’ve made nearly two dozen permutations of this simple recipe, I always return to the basil version. It’s simple, savory, and perfection when ladled over a steaming hot bowl of farfalle.
And there’s a playlist! Going forward, I’m going to include some of the songs I’m playing whilst blitzing, baking, shaking and chowing. Hope you enjoy the experience of returning to oneself, with food, just as much as I do.
1 lb of pasta
2 cups of basil leaves, packed
1/4 + 2 tbsp of garlic-infused olive oil*
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup kosher salt for the pasta water
8-10 balls of mozzarella (or bocconcini), or opt for 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella
*If you don’t have garlic-infused oil, feel free to mince up a large clove of garlic in olive oil.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is bubbling, add in 1/4 cup of kosher salt. Nigella Lawson once said that ones pasta water should resemble the Mediterranean, and I’ve been thinking about briny waters ever since. Once your water returns to a boil, toss in your pasta. Stir to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick.
While the pasta is cooking, toss the basil (I tend to chop up the leaves so all the ingredients incorporate evenly in the food processor), salt, pepper, and blitz for 10 seconds. Add in the olive oil and pulse into you get a smooth, liquid mixture. Add in the cheese and pulse until the mixture combines and the pesto is a thick paste. Add the pesto to the bottom of your large serving bowl.
Cook the pasta until it’s al dente (1-2 minutes less than what the package calls for). Drain and add to a large serving bowl. Stir from the bottom up, making sure that all of the noodles are coated. You’ll notice that my farfalle isn’t DROWNING IN PESTO. This is because I LOATHE AN OVER-SAUCED ANYTHING. You need enough sauce to coat the noodles, but we’re not talking pesto soup, people. The pesto is the spring jacket, not the WHOLE OUTFIT.
A woman digresses.
Once you’ve evenly incorporated the pesto, add in the cheese, a smattering of cracked pepper and a few basil leaves for garnish. Eat piping hot!