For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pinching the tops off my basil plants, the better to make them grow bushier and fend off flowering. And this weekend I celebrated with the first pesto of the season.
I go for the classic -- just basil leaves, a little flat-leaved parsley, garlic, olive oil, a handful of pine nuts -- and, of course, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. In this case, I had some beautiful Pecorino Romano, so I used some of that too. Check your pine nuts before starting: They have a tendency to go a bit rancid over time.
For this dish, because there are so few elements -- basically just the pasta and the pesto -- it’s essential to use a high-quality dried pasta. I’m a big fan of pasta from Gragnano, a little town on the bay of Naples where the best producers use old-fashioned bronze dies that give the pasta surface a bit of texture, the better to grab the sauce. Though the traditional shape for pesto is trofie, I like to use the corkscrew shape called fusilli.