Cook the peas in a frying pan with the garlic, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a glass of water, until they are fairly tender. Toast the pine nuts in a small non-stick frying pan for a few minutes. When they have cooled down a bit, mix the peas and pine nuts with the pesto. Cook the Rigatoni in boiling, salted water. Strain when very “al dente”, mix them with the sauce (1) and put them in an oven dish, or a baking pan, previously greased with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with the grated Parmigiano and drizzle a little more oil on top. Bake the pasta in a preheated oven, at 200 °C, for roughly 10 minutes until a thin, golden crust has formed on top.
(1) If it seems a bit dry and not very creamy, add, as usual, 1 or 2 spoonfuls of the water the pasta was cooked in.
Ingredients for 4 people:
approximately 50 young basil leaves
30 g Parmigiano
30 g good aged pecorino cheese
1 large clove of garlic (or 2 small ones)
12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
15 g pine nuts
½ tsp coarse salt
5 g shelled walnuts
Remove the stems from the basil leaves, then wash them and dry them well with kitchen paper. Cut the Parmigiano, pecorino and garlic into pieces and put them in a food processor with the pine nuts, walnuts, salt and basil. Chop (1) thoroughly and pour the sauce into a bowl that’s large enough to contain the pasta as well. Add the olive oil, a little at a time, stirring very slowly to amalgamate everything well. This sauce can be used to dress linguine, tagliatelle and spaghetti, as well as all short pasta shapes, and it’s also delicious on egg pasta (pappardelle, tagliolini, ravioli). It’s important not to strain the pasta too much and to set aside a few spoonfuls of the water it was cooked in, these can then be added to the pasta if it seems too dry and not creamy enough. A spoonful of pesto added to minestrone or creamed vegetable soups makes them special. It’s an excellent “seasoning” that can be added to many pasta sauces (especially tomato based ones) to enhance the flavour.
(1) Nowadays both housewives and professional cooks often rely on food processors or blenders, but real pesto is made using a marble or wood mortar and pestle. Here is exactly how it’s done: you start by crushing the basil leaves and garlic. You crush and grind them until the two ingredients are reduced to a pulp. Then you add the pine nuts and salt and continue crushing as you gradually add the olive oil, amalgamating it with the rest of the mixture. The sauce is completed with the cheese (you can add it already grated). The rule is that it should be half pecorino and half Parmigiano, but some just use the former and others adjust the percentages according to their taste.