As a person who loves talking and writing about food, eating food and preparing food, is Italian, it seems wrong to admit that I dislike pesto sauce. I want to like it and sing its praises but I have found it often to have a subtle bitter taste to it that only occurs when the basil is broken down by any of the various methods people like to use to make pesto. And, if I am confessing, I must also add that noodles coated in anything that vibrant of a green startles me a little. My husband and children don't really care for 'green pasta' either.
After a recent trip to Trader Joe's where I purchased fresh basil to use on pizza margherita, I had a large quantity left and needed to find a way to use it before it went bad. Try as I might, I could not think of anything to do with it but make pesto. I didn't want pesto. My family didn't want pesto. But pesto, deconstructed is what I gave them.
It's a very simple dish that comes together quickly and has rapidly become a favorite of my pesto hating family. I haven't the heart to tell them that essentially they ARE eating pesto. Deconstructed pesto does not have the staggeringly intense flavor of traditional pesto sauce but what it loses in sheer overwhelming boldness it makes up for in its light, perfect for summer deliciousness. Each ingredient retains its own identity allowing you to savor the nuances of each before combining them into a delicate pesto flavored mouthful.
All of the traditional ingredients for pesto were used but I couldn't resist trying this delicious Garlic Olive Oil from The Olive Orchard. The Olive Orchard does not infuse their olive oils with flavor; they press their olives with the additonal ingredients to create an olive oil that is heavily flavored but still retains the light mouthfeel of olive oil.
1 large bunch of basil, chopped roughly to make 1 cup
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan reggiano
1-2 ounces of Olive Orchard Garlic Olive Oil (or e.v. olive oil + 1 minced garlic clove or few shakes powdered garlic)
8 ounces of dried pasta
salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare pasta to personal cooked preferences. I prefer mine al dente to better combine with the pine nuts. Drain pasta.
2. Toss pasta with olive oil. Do not over do the oil so the pasta is dripping but do have a generous hand. Gently stir in the parmesan, pine nuts and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Serve immediately.
Make pesto in your mouth.