linguini with potatoes, green beans and pesto

ever since my mom got an ipad last year, a couple times a month, she emails a picture of some baked good or dinner that's so good, she has to share. after more than a few this summer, i casually mentioned she should be a guest blogger. instead, my dad took on the challenge.

i've said time and time before that food and places are intricately tied together (see food always tastes better outside, blackberry peach cakemini baked chocolate cake donuts and  strawberry jam). while i was at the dinner my father describes so well here, i don't remember it much, if at all. my italian memories center around gelato and prosciutto with melon. i've always found it funny how two people, on exactly the same trip, remember very different things.

By Guest Blogger "Pops"

Kate didn't become a foodie totally by chance. Her Mom and I sewed those seeds long ago as we are both quite the foodies in our own right. One of Kate's Mama's favorites has always been pesto. I could take it or leave it but if given my druthers I would leave it, that is until the magical evening of August 6, 2004.

It was our 27th wedding anniversary and we had spent the day with Kate and her sister Kristen hiking across the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. The hike across the "five lands" includes stunning views of the Ligurian Sea and walks through countless olive groves and vineyards. At each of the tiny isolated villages we paused for a Fanta or a gelato or a birra as it was blazingly hot.

Kate and her Mom hiking the Cinque Terra with the village of Corniglia in the distance

Late that afternoon we returned by boat to the village of Vernazza where we were staying. Despite being pretty tired Kate and I, both fairly avid photographers, decided to hike back up the seaside mountain to get some pictures of this amazingly beautiful village.

Kate with the village of Vernazza in the background

That evening all four of us went to the little harbor side square at the very center of this tiny fishing village and picked out one of the open air ristorantes for dinner. It was a beautiful evening and we had a wonderful meal. I remember I had Burrida, the Ligurian stew of fish, squid, tomatoes, garlic and white wine and it was out of this world in the same way that most of the food in Italy is. But Kate's Mom, already a lover of Americanized pesto decided to try the Italian version. So, she ordered the pesto where pesto was born - Liguria. This would be the real deal unaltered and uncorrupted even by the possibility of regional tweaks had she ordered it elsewhere in Italy. Her first surprise was that it came laced with fresh green beans and slices of new potatoes. I think her second surprise was the absolutely sublime taste. I have to admit the beans and potatoes had already peaked my interest when she started to rave so I was more than willing to try it when she offered. Compared to any pesto I had tasted to that time it was absolutely amazing and it paired perfectly with the local dry white vino Cinque Terre which is most plentiful there but hard to find here in the USA (and of which we drank copiously as I recall!).

Enjoying an after dinner espresso in Vernazza, Italy August 6, 2004

When we got back from that trip Judy began to hunt down and experiment on a recipe that would yield authentic Ligurian pesto and in pretty short order she perfected it. I swear this is as close to authentic as I think you can come to the pesto we enjoyed that night in Vernazza. Now, although I still don't ask for it, I know that every August when green beans are in season and the first new potatoes become available that Judy will be making pesto and I actually look forward to it. One taste takes me right back to that warm summer evening in the Cinque Terre when the four of us dined alfresco in that beautiful place enjoying each other, recounting our day, sharing such a fantastic meal. I will always remember it, it truly was magical. - Pops

Linguini with Potatoes, Green Beans and Pesto
30 minutes, serves 4-6

1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large clove of garlic, sliced thin
1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 (2 ounces) finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

1 pound dried linguini
12 ounces tiny new potatoes, sliced thin
8 ounces thin green beans

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt. Cover and process until very finely  chopped. Gradually add the olive oil and process until well combined. Add the cheeses and pulse only until just combined. (This is a great basic pesto recipe).

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions except add the potatoes and green beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta mixture.

In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta and vegetables, pesto and butter. Gently toss until the past and vegetables are well coated. Serve immediately. Serve with a loaf of crusty Italian bread and a glass or 2 of ice cold Pinot Grigio.

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