It's no surprise that I LOVE pasta. Nothing to me says Italian food like pasta. Unlike other infamous Italian foods like pizza and tomato sauce, which have a fairly recent history, pasta may indeed have a much older pedigree going back hundreds if not thousands of years.
I was once told that the Venetian merchant, Marco Polo brought back pasta from his journeys in China in 1295. So I did a little research and found out there are evidences of Italian recipe books from earlier years containing references to pasta dishes. Since China is an ancient civilization, with a complex culture dating back thousands of years, it's likely that pasta existed in China very early.
Right, so pasta did not arrive in Italy courtesy of Marco Polo; and let's just stop here. I am not a food historian and instead I want to focus more on pasta as a staple ingredient in my kitchen and in my family.
I have been eating pasta for as long as I can remember. Pasta is one of the ingredients in my mom's chicken soup recipe. My sisters and I loved this soup. With so many different kinds of shape and flavours of pasta available these days, it isn't difficult to be creative when deciding upon a dish.
I have always considered pasta as one of the great pleasures of the table. For casual get-together, I know there's nothing more satisfying (and economical) to set on the table than a big bowl piled high with pasta. Everyone can serve themselves as much as they want, and it can either be a side dish or as a main course.
And today, I made pasta alla genovese with potatoes, green beans and pesto from Nigella Kitchen book. It's ridiculously easy to make and absolutely delicious. The potatoes, linguine and the green beans all cook in one pot and then coated with home-made pinenutless pesto of basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil.
I know some might have a concern about the double carbohydrates intake in this recipe, I personally don't, but it just works! The soft potatoes will crumble a bit and thicken the pesto which makes such comforting sauce. And green beans are good for us, so if it helps to make you feel better, simply add more beans.
Pasta alla genovese with potatoes, green beans and pesto
Recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 6 - 8, depending on age and appetite
500 gr large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
500 gr linguine pasta
200 gr fine green beans, trimmed and cut in half
for the pesto:
100 gr basil leaves (2 fat bunches)
100 gr grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled
100 ml regular olive oil
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Put the prepared potato chunks is a large saucepan with enough salted water to take the pasta later; and bring to the boil.
Cook the potatoes until tender and then add the pasta. Check the packet instructions and four minutes before the end of the specified cooking time, add the green beans.
When this is bubbling away, make the pesto in food processor. Drain the saucepan, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. Tip the drained potatoes, beans and pasta back to the dry pan.
Add the pesto and enough cooking water to give a runny sauce that coats the strands of pasta, potatoes and the beans. Serve immediately.