Bayless Family Pasta With Pesto
Rick Bayless of Frontera Kitchen & Topolobampo - Chicago, IL
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups (1 1/2 ounces) fresh basil leaves (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
1/4 cup lemon balm (optional, you can also substitute bergamot or lemon zest)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese (you can substitute cream cheese)
1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice, fresh squeezed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound dried pasta (Rick and Lanie prefer fusilli or spaghetti)
Bring 4 to 5 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.
Place nuts in a small skillet set over medium heat. Stir regularly until nuts release a toasty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let nuts cool.
Place peeled garlic in microwave-safe cup and cover with water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Scoop garlic out of water with spoon. Let cool at room temperature.
In food processor, combine cooled nuts, basil leaves, optional lemon balm, olive oil, goat cheese, juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut each garlic clove into 3 pieces and add to processor. Secure lid. Pulse 5 or 6 times, then run machine until mixture is smooth--about 1 minute. Leave pesto in food processor.
When pot of water comes to a boil, add 2 Tablespoons salt and pasta. Boil until pasta is done--9 to 12 minutes for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of cooking liquid and set aside.
Process reserved pasta water into pesto. Return pasta to pot. Scrape pesto from processor bowl onto pasta. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan. Use tongs or large spoon or fork to stir, evenly coating pasta. Divide onto plates and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately, passing remaining Parmesan at the table.
An herbal Italian white such as the Bisson Vermentino "Monte Bernardo" 2001
Round out the Meal:
With sliced grilled chicken breasts and foccacia
Yield: 4 Servings
(From Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures by Rick Bayless and Lanie Bayless, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004)