It’s not an overstatement to say that I’m infatuated with pesto.
It was first introduced to me when I’d just graduated from high school. I had a new job and my boss invited me to dinner. When I arrived, my bosses wife Melanie was just beginning to drizzle olive oil into a blender full of heavenly scented, brilliant green paste. When the pesto had whirled itself into silky oblivion, she poured it over a serving bowl of hot tortellini, hunks of thinly sliced prosciutto, and loads of summer vegetables: red peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms. Then she tossed it all together and topped it with more cheese. I remember thinking that it was one of the best things I’d ever tasted.
Melanie was kind enough to write down the recipe which I’ve kept in a notebook ever since. About most things, I’m not very sentimental, but handwritten recipes from friends and family feel like little treasures to me. And If you’ve had dinner at our home several times, I’ve probably served you this dish. After 20 years, it’s still one of my favorites.
I’ve experimented with pesto using different nut and cheese combinations, sometimes making it with a green like spinach or arugula instead of basil. You may remember these crostini and this desconstructed pesto recipe. And I keep a little list of pesto recipes to try like this one with sundried tomatoes and this one with cauliflower. Then the June issue of Bon Appétit arrived in my mailbox. Did you see the cover with the parsley pesto? I tried the recipe immediately, and this guy says it best…
But, that’s okay Bon Appétit, I still love you.
So this is my second pass at the recipe: I added garlic (for heaven’s sake!), swapped in basil for parsley (hardly original), used pecorino (bingo!), and toasted almonds (er, yum?). And you know what? This may be my favorite version of pesto yet.
When you make this, be sure to reserve at least a cup of the pasta water. You’ll stir it into the pasta and be rewarded with a silky, creamy pesto sauce.
I’ve written this recipe for just 2 servings, but you can easily scale this recipe – double, triple, or more!
Spaghetti with Basil Almond Pecorino Pesto
- 6 ounces spaghetti
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- 2 ounces grated pecorino cheese plus more for garnish
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving at least 1 cup of cooking water. Place pasta in a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, make pesto. With a blender or food processor running, add garlic, almonds, pecorino, and basil and blend into a coarse paste. Drizzle in olive oil and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Pour pesto over pasta and add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss to coat pasta. Continue to add pasta water until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. Sprinkle more pecorino over the top and serve.