Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RECIPE: Deconstructed Pesto Pasta

In about two weeks, I finally get to take my coveted vacation. I am going to Cinque Terre, Italy for about a week, and then to Tuebingen, Germany for a wedding. I am so excited to go to Cinque Terre. I have always wanted to go there. Cinque Terre is a series of five villages along the cliffside oceans of Northwestern Italy, in the region of Liguria.

After walking around for about six months with permanent stress ... I am looking forward to sitting down with my first glass of wine, looking around at the colorful buildings and crashing waves, taking a big breath and feeling my muscles all simultaneously relax. I plan to eat a lot and not feel guilty because I will be hiking from village to village.

One of the specialties of the region is pesto, which I am looking forward to consuming a lot of. In order to prepare myself for eating lots of pesto, I prepared this deconstructed pesto pasta recipe from the June/July issue of Fine Cooking.

This is actually my favorite kind of pasta: pasta with no sauce, just various ingredients that make it delicious. It is, of course, a completely different experience from eating pasta with pesto sauce. Each flavor is separated out and in an at least somewhat whole state, rather than all ground up together. The basil is more fragrant and the pine nuts give an added crunch. I found this to be completely delicious and would make it again, but the preparation is time consuming, and you can't make a bunch and save it in a jar like pesto sauce. So I think I would be more likely to go with traditional pesto on a regular basis.


Kosher salt
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 lb. fusilli pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves worth minced garlic
Black pepper
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 cups sweet basil cut into thin strips

1. Boil salted water in a large pot.

2. While waiting for water to boil, toast pine nuts in a 10 inch skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown in places, then set aside to cool.

3. When water is boiling, cook pasta according to package instructions.

4. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and garlic in the skillet until the garlic begins to brown.

5. When pasta is done reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest, then return pasta to the pot and toss with olive oil and garlic. Then pour the reserved water in and toss again. Finally, add pine nuts and almost all of the cheese, tossing again. Save some cheese for sprinkling on top at the end.

6. Transfer pasta to serving bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Just before serving, toss in basil and then sprinkle the extra cheese on top to make it pretty.


be sure to take lots of pictures of the lovely food in Italy...not sure about Tubingen, though.

said by Anyanka at 9:54 AM Delete


Here is the description of the place we are staying in Tubingen: "It is an old stone place in the old town section and looks out over the river and the rooftops of the town ... you can walk from there all around the interesting part of Tubingen on the cobblestone small winding streets and see all the quaint parts of the town."

So at least we will be in the interesting part!

said by KT at 10:01 AM Delete

Cinque Terre is the BEST. Make sure to get some Limoncello while you are there too. Oh and the pesto? They sell it by weight (grams?). CUTE! (And delicious)
Enjoy your trip!

said by Rachael at 2:46 PM Delete

I cannot WAIT. My husband just made some homemade limoncello, so I'll have to compare his with the real deal.

said by KT at 2:48 PM Delete

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