One of the things I love about the Sicilian dialect is the gentle humor in the names of some recipes.
One might serve “pasta con le sarde a mare” if you’ve had a bad day fishing – “a mare” means “at sea” – in this case there are no fish in the pasta. Another example are the tasty potatoes seasoned with delicate herbs, “patate con lampada fuggito”, where the lamb that should accompany the potatoes has “escaped”.
So in that spirit, I bring you “pesto con i pinoli ancora sull’albero” – pesto with the pine nuts still on the tree. You can make this even if you think you can’t cook!
To begin, you will need about a handful of fresh parsley (leaves only), two handfuls of fresh basil, and a small head of garlic. You will also need a cutting board, a sharp knife (or a mezzaluna if you have one).
Rinse the herbs and pat them dry (very gently). The idea is to start with a just a portion of the ingredients, chop them, add some more, etc.
The goal is for some of the herbs and garlic to be chopped into near oblivion, while some are in large chunks.
Keep adding and chopping, adding and chopping, until everything is chopped, and you can make a patty with the mixture.
At this point you want to add an amount of grated parmesan or romano cheese approximately equal to the herb-garlic mixture (generally around ½ cup).
Combine, and then mash into a bowl. I like to use the back of a spoon to further grind down some of the basil.
Go ahead and put the bowl in the fridge while you boil your pasta or grill your chicken. This pesto doesn’t keep for long, but a few minutes is fine.
When the pasta is nearly al dente, pour enough olive oil into the bowl to submerge the pesto.
Whisk the mixture with a fork, adding a bit more olive oil if needed. It should look like this – still thick, but with the herbs starting to separate in the oil.
Gently drain your noodles (don’t shake them – they are best when wet!). Add the pesto and lightly toss.
Serve alone, or with grilled chicken – buon appetito!