Basil pesto linguine is one of my favorite comfort meals. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and makes a fast, satisfying dinner any night of the week (it also makes great leftovers for lunch).
As is the case with many recipes, the quality of the ingredients is so important when it comes to pesto. Real Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano Reggiano, is savory, nutty and nothing like the stuff you see for sale in a green tube. Fresh basil, garlic and lightly toasted pine nuts all bring important flavor components to the dish.
I also recommend using a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for best results — preferably something with a bit of fruitiness or spiciness to really enhance the other flavors.
The pesto makes a beautiful green hue. Your kitchen will smell amazing. And dinner will be served in the time it takes to cook pasta!
Basil Pesto Linguine
Yields: 8 servings
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil (approximately 3 ounces)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- 16 ounces linguine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet until golden and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the toasted pine nuts, basil, garlic and cheese to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to chop up the ingredients and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running, add the olive oil.
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the linguine according to the package instructions. Right before draining the pasta, carefully reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, pesto and pasta water. Toss to combine evenly and add some extra salt and pepper if additional seasoning is desired.
- Optional: before serving the pasta, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top for added flavor and brightness.
Photo credit: Jennifer Farley