Just after I had my sad Food Waste Friday when I threw away some moldy basil, my mother-in-law bequeathed me with one of the most beautiful herb plants I have ever seen: purple basil. The leaves are much larger than traditional basil, but the flavor is basically the same, though not quite as strong as the traditional. Now that I have access to live basil I won’t have to worry about wasting the fresh, clipped stuff in my fridge. I’m thrilled!
In celebration of this gift, I made a pretty and tasty dinner with it. I like to call it:
Pretty Purple Pesto Pasta
2 cups purple basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 box uncooked pasta of your choice
First things first: I put on a pot of water to boil for pasta. This is how every good Italian meal really starts, isn’t it?
I began the sauce by peeling and chopping my garlic. It helps me to get out a day’s frustrations; the screams of a clove of garlic cannot be heard.
I put those in the food processor, then rinsed and dried my basil. I wasn’t too crazy about getting rid of all the water on the leaves, but I just didn’t want soaking wet leaves to clog up the food processor. I then put them into my glass measuring cup (judgment welcome) to make sure I had enough. Please admire with me the beauty that is purple basil.
I put the basil in the food processor, along with the balsamic vinegar and pulsed until everything was fairly well chopped up. Then I drizzled the olive oil over everything and turned the food processor on to make the mixture form a paste. Traditionally, one would drizzle the olive oil in while chopping, but my food processor flings things everywhere; the difference in method didn’t seem to affect my pesto at all.
This was the luscious purple goodness I had blended. It was a bit soupy, but not enough to really coat any pasta.
By this time, my water was boiling, so I threw in about 1 tbsp of salt into the boiling water (because your pasta should cook in water as salty as the sea) and put my pasta in, stirring for the first few seconds so that it didn’t stick together. I chose spaghetti for this particular dish because I just love long pasta.
When the pasta was cooked to al dente (literally “to the tooth” in Italian) I drained it, but reserved about 2 cups of the starchy pasta water with a cup placed next to my colander in the sink.
After placing a little bit of the pesto in the bottom of the pasta pot, I put the pasta back in the pot, then the remainder of the pesto on top. I then put a little bit of the pasta water in the pot and stirred everything up. There is no way for me to tell you how much pasta water you will need; it depends on how thick your pesto comes out and how well it can coat your pasta. But start with a small amount and add little bits until you can toss the pasta and coat each strand with the purple goodness.
Once the pasta was mostly tossed and coated, I put in my grated cheese. Because the pasta is still very warm it gets a bit melty and gives the sauce a very nice texture and flavor. Toss to distribute the cheese.
If you don’t find yourself in possession of purple basil, you may use the recipe to make regular old green pesto. Just use lemon juice in place of the balsamic vinegar.
Try this recipe and enjoy!