"Testarolo" with Pesto Sauce

Ok, this is from the series "Italian Recipes Most Non-Italians (and even some Italians) Don't Know"!
A great summer recipe if you have a bumper crop of basil in your garden or if you can buy fresh basil in large quantities. This recipe requires a food processor, unless you want to use a mortar and pestle.

The "Testarolo" is a typical flat bread of the Lunigiana region of Tuscany. That would be the most northern tip of Tuscany that borders on Liguria to the east and Emilia Romagna to the west. Basically it is a batter about the consistency of pancake batter that is cooked on a terracotta (or cast iron) "testo", a special baking dish used directly on hot coals. Fortunately, for me, I can buy it at the grocery store. 
If you can't find a "testarolo" or don't want to make one fresh, you can serve your pesto with pasta.

This will make a large quantity of pesto, which you can keep for several days in the refrigerator.
about 2 cups of loosely packed fresh basil (about 2 ounces)
a scant half cup of extra virgin olive oil
about 6 walnut meats (the original recipe calls for pinoli nuts, but in my house no one likes them so I use either walnuts or pecans)
1 clove of garlic
50 grams Parmigiano or Grana Padano cheese (about 2 oz)
pinch of sea salt (regular will do)

Wash and dry the basil leaves
break the cheese up into small pieces, remove skin from garlic clove

Place the nuts, garlic and cheese in the processer and process on high until it starts to form a crumbly paste

Add about half of the basil, half of the oil and the salt to the processor. Process on high until a cream starts to form.

Add the rest of the basil and oil to the processor and process on high until the pesto is the consistency you want.

It should look something like this. 

Put a large pot of water on to boil, and if you are using a testarolo cut it into 1" pieces 
When the water comes to a boil, add the cut up testarolo. It only has to boil for a minute or two. Drain as you would for pasta, season with pesto (you will need about 1/3 of the amount this recipe yields) and serve.
If you are using pasta, cook 4 servings of pasta according to the package directions, season with about 1/3 of the pesto sauce and serve.

Buon appetito!! 


Pasta with Red Bell Pepper Sauce

This is a delicious and really easy summer pasta recipe!

1 large red bell pepper per person
1 clove of garlic per person
Extra virgin olive oil
80 grams (about 3oz) of short pasta per person (I used rigatoni)
chopped parsley
grated Parmesan cheese

Wash and clean the peppers removing all of the seeds and white membrane from inside the pepper.
Coarsely chop the peppers and place them in a frying pan (size will depend on the amount of peppers you are cooking), add 1 to 3 T extra virgin olive oil (again depending on the amount of peppers you are cooking), add garlic.

Cook over high heat until the peppers start to sizzle, lower to heat to a simmer, place a lid on the pan and cook slowly for about 20 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the skin starts to come away from the flesh of the pepper. Stir frequently while the peppers are cooking so that they do not stick or start to brown.

While the peppers are cooking, grate the cheese and finely chop the parsley. I cooked 3 peppers for 3 people and I used about a cup of grated cheese and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley.

Put a large pot of water on to boil. When the peppers are cooked, put them through a food mill to eliminate the skin. When the water boils, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and in a large frying pan season the pasta with the pureed peppers. Add the cheese and parsley, toss over high heat for about a minute and serve. That's it! Buon appetito!!

  Buon appetito!!