I’m clinging on to Summer for dear life. I don’t want to let it go. The long days, the bright skies, the open-top boat rides out into the lagoon, and the lazy lunches al fresco under the shade of the unruly fig tree in our garden. The lethargy of summer: I will miss the lethargy of summer.
Pasta con pesto is a dish that lends itself well to lethargy, be it of the Summer, Winter or autumnal variety. It’s essentially the lazy cook’s bliss: that precious kind of cooking which calls for very little actual cooking before you get on to the all-important matter of eating. A handful of fresh basil leaves, nuts, a little parmesan and indecent lashings of olive; throw together in a blender; and voilá: sauce so creamy it delights even the most gourmand of appetites.
At home we eat pasta often, especially when it is just Aeneas, Anthony and I. Yet, funnily enough, I rarely find myself cooking pasta when we have guests over; unless perhaps it’s the oven-baked variety, perhaps a maccheroni al forno, for example, or maybe a lasagna of some kind. Out of habit perhaps – or laziness – I mostly choose to serve dishes that you pop in the oven and leave to tend to themselves; no last minute fussing, rather more indulging in friends’ company and news.
But pasta con pesto is different. That I would happily cook for a small army, time and time again. The sauce, you see – unlike a meaty ragú or a slow cooked sugo al pomodoro, is gratifyingly quick to make; you throw it together, almost mindlessly, with ingredients that you likely already have sitting in your store cupboard; quickly you learn to make it by eye and by taste, without reference to recipes, books or any other such encumbrances. All of which, incidentally, makes pasta con pesto – be it a dish of penne, trofie, gnocchi or, as here, orecchiette – ideal for cosy kitchen suppers and more sumptuous dinner parties alike. [Read more…]