My affinity for food is undeniably rooted in my mother's uncontested ability to make absolutely anything and everything. Growing up, we rarely had the same meal twice in a month, and she prepared a full-course meal for us almost every night of the week. Some mornings when I awoke for school, she had already been in the kitchen for hours prepping that evening's meal, so that she could quickly have dinner on the table shortly after I finished my homework and Dad arrived home from coaching football.
Because she introduced us to a wide spectrum of cuisines, anytime I dined elsewhere and sampled something unique to my palate, I assumed it was extremely rare. If Mom hadn't made it, then surely it had been recently invented.
My mom's best friend, Jan, was the only other cook in my life who could impress me. Jan lived near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in my dream home, a Victorian two-story with carved rugs, hardwood floors, and a storm cellar. And it was at Jan's home that I first tried seemingly strange dishes like miso soup. Bean curd and seaweed could make a soup? And it could taste delicious? But the dish I repeatedly requested was Jan's pesto, made with ingredients from her own herb garden in her backyard.
Though I have discovered my own personal preferences for pesto sauce, I still think of my time at Jan's every time I eat that herbal treat that once seemed so foreign to me. Here is my twist on the favorite meal I ate at Jan's.
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh oregano
10 garlic cloves, freshly minced1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (if you can't find toasted, simply warm them in a skillet until slightly browned)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh shredded asiago cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup black truffle oil (1/2 cup olive oil in total may be substituted, but I just love truffle oil...)
10 small red potatoes
1 small package of fresh green beans1 box of dried fettuccine noodles
(1) Remove the stems from the basil and oregano leaves, and discard. Finely chop the leaves in a food processor (or blender).
(2) Add the garlic and pine nuts, and pulse until blended in the food processor.
(3) Add the salt and both cheeses, and blend again.
(4) Add the oils, and blend one final time. Set pesto sauce aside. (Covered and refrigerated, the sauce will hold for 2 - 3 days)
(5) Rinse the potatoes, and quarter each. Then slice the quarters into 1/4 inch thick pieces.
(6) Remove the ends of the green beans, and snap the beans into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
(7) Add the potatoes to a pot of salted, boiling water, and boil for ten minutes. 7 minutes in, add the green beans to boil with the potatoes for the last 3 minutes. Drain, and set aside covered with a paper towel.
(8) Prepare fettuccine according to the package. I prefer mine al dente, which usually takes around 11 minutes. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
(9) Using a wooden spoon, stir in the pesto. Add small amounts of warm water if the pesto won't disperse evenly.
(10) Add the potatoes and green beans, and gently toss.
(11) Garnish with shaved Asiago cheese, and serve. Enjoy!!!