TUSCAN RECIPES … today, PESTO all’Pignoli
Nonna Margherita Dottorelli in her kitchen, 1905
Some excellent Tuscan recipes from her granddaughter Marta, who refuses to be just a character in a novel called The Whirling Girl, made up by that writer.
Simple Pesto (with pine nuts):
In Tuscany it is the time of the filling of cellars and
attics for the winter, with our farm’s abundance.
But disgracefully, I (yesMarta Dottorelli!) have been so busy helping with the vendemmia (the harvesting of our grapes to make our year’s supply of wine) that I have not had time to tell you of my earlier harvest of pignoli, the delicious nuts from the pine trees that grow along the lane leading from our farm to the house where the beautiful Signora Chiara lives.
Where, of course, I also do Signora Chiara’s work.
TO HARVEST pignoli is much labour. If a wind has not already blown down the cones, the trees must be shaken. Then the cones must be a little heated to help release the kernels.
But in our part of Tuscany we like to live “close to the ground”. In other words, to eat what we have harvested ourselves if possible.
IF YOU ARE NOT LUCKY to have these trees (which Signora Chiara would tell you are called in Latin Pinus pinea; she is with much knowledge of things botanical, my beautiful Chiara, even if sometimes she tells the lies!) then you will have to go to the store and buy the nuts for much money.
But they are worth it. Not just for the taste, but for the health.
Even back to the time of the Etruscans, pignoli have been known to ease problems of the lungs.
Also, they have benefits alfrodisiaco (which I am telling you in a whisper; this is one benefit the beautiful Chiara has already a little too much!).
ALLORA! BUT NOW BECAUSE I AM TIRED, I will give you today just a simple recipe that will keep your winter meals happy too, if you make enough to freeze.
To make one batch of my Pesto you will need:
— 50 grams of the leaves of your good basil
— 3 large cloves of garlic
— 40 grams of pine nuts lightly toasted
— 120 grams of parmeggiano cheese grated
— At least 3 big cooking spoons of olive oil (more if necessary).
— Sea salt
— Pepper freshly ground
The basil you will chop roughly and put into your blender or your mini-food-processor (the woman who write the novel where she tries to keep me silent will tell you I do not have one of these. She is wrong).
Or, if you have more time than I have, you can use a mortar and a pestle, the way Nonna Margherita used to do.
In your processor or blender you will then add everything else little by little, adding more oil as necessary, and you will find it is easy to make everything smooth.
Then you can put each batch into a container the right size for one meal and — as I have already told you — it will freeze very nicely for the winter when you need that taste of freshness.
And please remember: as we say in Tuscany, To eat well is the best revenge.