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Bucatini with Pesto

Pesto is one of the easiest sauces to make, as it requires no cooking, just a quick combining of fresh ingredients. This recipe makes enough pesto for dinner tonight plus 2 additional dishes (see related recipes at left).

Storage tip: The pesto sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pesto before storing to prevent discoloration.

Ingredients:

For the pesto sauce:

  • 4 cups tightly packed fresh basil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino romano cheese, or a combination
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 1 lb. bucatini, spaghetti or other strand pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino romano cheese, or a combination

Directions:

Make the pesto
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, oil, pine nuts, the 1 tsp. salt and several grindings of pepper. Process until a coarse paste forms, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 1 1/2 cups cheese and the butter.

Cook the pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

In a serving bowl, mix 2 Tbs. of the cooking water with 1 cup of the pesto. (Store the rest for another use; see note above.) Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Add as much of the remaining cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 4; makes 5 cups pesto sauce total.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).