When you’re cooking with whole grains, says Giovanni Campanile, owner of Pazzi Pasta in Brooklyn, NY, try to avoid anything generically labeled “wheat”—95% of wheat produced today is a modern species known as “common wheat,” which has been genetically altered for increased yield and pest resistance, not flavor and nutrition. So when you’re cruising the supermarket aisles, be on the lookout for names like einkorn, spelt, and khorasan. These are all ancient grains that are high in protein and fiber and come packed with a clean, tasty, “wheaty” flavor.
In this recipe, we’ve opted for Eden Foods Kamut and Quinoa Twisted Pair, which resembles the traditional busiate, or spiral, pasta typically paired with this pesto in its homeland of Trapani, Sicily, as its shape ensures that the light pesto stays on the noodles and won’t pool at the bottom of your bowl.
When making this Southern Italian pesto, Campanile suggests using a mortar and pestle to mash it. (If that’s too much pressure, a food processor also works just fine.) “A smooth texture allows the pesto to coat the pasta,” he says. But above all, Campanile says, “fresh, seasonal herbs and vegetables are mandatory to create the best pesto.”
When making pesto, opt for a spiral-shaped pasta. That will ensure the sauce stays aboard instead of pooling at the bottom of your bowl.
Courtesy Giovanni Campanile, M.D., and owner of Pazzi Pasta, Brooklyn, NY.
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Makes 6 servings
- 1/2 lb fresh plum tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds
- 1 Tbsp pecorino cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 Tbsp capers (optional)
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives (optional)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
How to make it
Dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain under cold water, and peel the skin off with your fingers.
Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth. With the mixer running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Toss with freshly boiled pasta and serve.