Last week, I took my Mom to meet her absolute favorite Chef, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. My mother has watched her PBS cooking show for years and fell in love with her recipes because they were the similar to the ones our family made. We have visited her restaurant in NYC, Becco. She did a cooking demonstration in Tom's River, NJ. It was a great time. There were many foods and wines to sample from local restaurants. After the demonstration, Lidia signed her newest book, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy. My Mom was so excited to meet her. She cooked a few recipes from her new cookbook, but this one she demonstrated from an older book, Lidia's Italy, is my favorite so I made it when I got home!
Anna's Pasta alla Pesto Trapanese (Taken from Lidia's Italy)
3 cups of cherry tomatoes
12 large fresh basil leaves
3-4 whole garlic cloves
1/4 tsp pepperoncino
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta of your choice
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
pignoli nuts and shredded basil for garnish
1. Rinse cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. Pat dry. Cut the tomatoes in half.
2. In a blender or food processor, start off with tomatoes and basil, then the garlic, pepperoncino and salt. Blend for a minute or so until well pureed.
3. Pour in the olive oil in a slow steady stream with blending to emulsify the puree into a pesto. Taste and adjust to taste. Put in a large warm bowl.
4. Boil water and salt. Add pasta of choice and cook until al dente. Drain. Add pasta to pesto. Toss and sprinkle with cheese and basil. Toss again and serve!
*Note* In Lidia's original recipe there were almonds (1/3 cup) in the puree. I made mine with pignoli nuts instead, but did NOT blend it in the sauce due to nut allergies. Instead, I put it in a bowl for people to top the pasta with.