Legend says, pesto was created out of boredom from a plain pasta. This recipe is far from boring and brings delicious basil flavor to the Sardinian gnocchi.
Photo by G. Giustolisi
Pesto has been used since the Roman times. The recipe, as we know it today, dates back to the nineteenth century. Extra virgin olive oil, basil (brought by the Arabs in the Mediterranean), pine nuts and cheese, mixed together and pounded in a mortar, gave birth to one of the most famous and popular sauces in the world. A sauce that brings colors and flavors of the Italian Riviera.
Legend says there was a monastery near Genoa, where the creation of pesto took place by a priest at St. Basil’s. The priest, tired of the usual meal, picked up the basil growing around, combined it with the few ingredients offered by the faithful and mashed the ingredients together and created the first pesto.
I made this recipe with “Malloreddus”, or Sardinian gnocchi, the traditional pasta of Sardinia Island. The name, “Malloreddu”, which means “bull” in Southern Sardinia (so the plural, “malloreddus”, means “calves”) comes from the shape and texture of dense pasta made with durum wheat semolina.
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic
- 160 g (5¾ oz-1 cup) Malloreddus pasta (or other short pasta)
- 50 g (½ cup) grated Parmigiano cheese
- 50 g (½ cup ) grated Pecorino cheese
- 20 g ( ¾ oz- ⅔ cup) pine nuts to taste
- extra virgin olive oil to taste (starting from no less of 5 tablespoons)?salt to taste
- Wash and dry basil leaves and pour into blender along with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add other tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil if necessary and according to the type of texture you want to give to sauce.
- Season Sardinian gnocchi (cooked al dente in salted water) with pesto you have diluted with water for cooking.