For all the travel you’ll do this summer, or at least dream of, this recipe takes you right to Portofino. You never forget your first taste of trofie, a special pasta that finds its home on the Ligurian coast. You’re dunzo when it’s served with that Genovese pesto and Mediterranean mussels. This is the recipe of the summer that is served piping hot, room temperature or as a pasta salad. No matter how it’s served, pesto pasta is the sleeper crowd pleaser.
I first had my first taste of real pesto pasta 12 years ago in Portofino. I stayed at the Belmond’s Splendido, and words still don’t describe this beautiful part of Italy. Located on the Ligurian coast of stunning, winding roads, they all lead to Portofino. This part of the world defines views for days. Everyone should have a chance once in their lifetime to take in the sight of Portofino from Splendido. It’s a bucket list experience.
The Secret to Your Success
This recipe is as straight forward as they come. You can have this dinner done in 15 minutes, or if you’re adding seafood to the dish, less than 30. The key to this recipe is the bright green of the pesto and the emulsified creaminess of the sauce with the pasta. There’s no cream though in this recipe, and if you insisted, you could make the pesto pesto vegan. The secret is just the right amount of pasta water from the trofie combined with the sauce right before you serve. You can also add in seafood like sous-vide shrimp, crab meat or Mediterranean mussels out of their shell, which makes the dish a proper full balanced meal.
Serves 6 guests as a pesto pasta course, 4 guests as a main
Pesto Pasta Ingredients
For the Pesto
4 cups of fresh basil leaves, removed from the stems
2 cups of ice
1/2 cup fresh finely grated parmesan
3 roasted garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de Sel or Maldon sea salt, to taste
For the Trofie
1 lb uncooked Trofie pasta
A food processor
About 30 minutes before you start, place your food processor with the blade in the refrigerator. About 10 minutes prior to making the pasta, place your basil in a bowl with the ice. This step is the secret that will help you get that beautiful green pesto color.
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add all the trofie and cook until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving about 2 cups.
While the pasta is cooking, add all your pesto ingredients to the food processor, and blend on medium. Add salt to taste. Your pesto should be a thickened paste and a bright green color. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
In the clean pasta pot, add in the cooked trofie and the pesto. Gently mix well. Add the pasta water in 1/2 cup increments until the sauce is emulsified. You can add a little more water than you need, as the pasta will soak it up by the time you serve. The key is to have the trofie set with enough sauce that it’s not soupy, but also not dry. Add in your optional seafood last with a gentle stir. Serve immediately. Alternatively you can make this ahead and serve it room temperature at a BBQ or even cold. This dish is delicious any which way.