One of the reasons I adore Wes Anderson movies is that every single shot looks like a brilliantly composed postcard. Have you seen Moonrise Kingdom? The Grand Budapest Hotel? Gorgeous. Perhaps one of the reasons they resonate with me is because my brain stores memories this way. (Admittedly not quite as perfectly composed as Andersons’s…) Years ago, I studied in Rome for a semester, and my mind is littered with postcards from the experience.
An early-morning walk after a rainy night takes me to the Vatican, to marvel at lighting of the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica at daybreak…
The stunning Trevi Fountain with my art history class on a morning without tourists, as our charming professor walked us through the history and iconography…
The Colosseum, bathed in dramatic lights on a warm spring night… (Living in DC, I still believe strongly that monuments and other historical buildings look best at night)
Let me be perfectly honest though. Most of my favorite memories have to do with food. Shocking I know.
Working through the gelato offerings all over town… baccio, nocciola, pistacchio, zabaione, albiccoca, figo…
Discovering how the pros do cappuccino at the Tazza d’Oro
Learning that the best pasta in town (fettucine con carciofi) was served by a guy who opened the doors to his tiny restaurant in Trastevere only when he felt like it… which wasn’t very often.
And perhaps the most searing memory of all… discovering the magnificent wonder of a food called pesto.
Oh my word, do I love pesto. And every time I eat the stuff it takes me back to time spent in Italy. Yesterday, I decided it was time to turn all my basil plants in the back garden into pesto. Fall and harvest time and all that stuff. I know the classic Roman version involves pine nuts. But of course, I have needed to tweak it and Americanize it a bit over the years. I prefer walnuts… and a touch of lemon… and a generous dose of black pepper. This version is hearty and cheesy and completely wonderful.
I love that it’s so incredibly easy to make – just throw all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse for a bit…
And it’s a little touch of heaven, ready to be tossed with pasta, or spread on paninis, or drizzled on pizza, or made into bruschetta…
Next year I need to plant more basil.
Or go to Italy…
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cups chopped walnuts
- 1 ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 to 1 ½ cups good quality extra virgin olive oil (I used 11/2 to be used with the pasta)
- juice and zest of one lemon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound angel hair pasta
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until a smooth paste forms.
- Cook the angel hair pasta according to package directions... toss with the pesto to taste. You should have plenty of extra left over to use on your paninis or pizza or bruschetta...
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