One of our favorite summer dishes is fresh pasta (either round corzetti or the long, curly ribbons known as reginette, pictured here) tossed with a highly fragrant pine nut pesto. We look forward to this Ligurian specialty in the cold of winter, when fresh marjoram is not an option, and make it almost weekly when the marjoram on our deck starts to grow in. For a lighter (but no less delicious) version of the sauce, you can omit the heavy cream and double the milk, as we often do at home.
This recipe is adapted from my latest cookbook, The Best Pasta Sauces.
For the pesto:
- 3 tablespoons marjoram leaves
- 1 plump garlic clove, peeled
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup whole milk, plus extra as needed
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
For the reginette:
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons salt
Make the pesto: Combine all the ingredients except the Parmigiano in a food processor and process until smooth. Place in a bowl large enough to accommodate the pasta later, and stir in the Parmigiano. If the sauce seems too thick, dilute with additional milk; the pesto should have the texture of heavy cream, but it won’t be perfectly smooth due to the nuts.
(The pesto keeps in the refrigerator up to 1 week as long as it is topped with a thin layer of olive oil; it can also be frozen for up to 1 month if the Parmigiano has not been stirred in.)
Make the reginette: Mix the flour, semolina flour, and salt on a counter and shape into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the eggs to the well. Using your fingertips, work the flour into the eggs, then gather into a dough and knead by hand; add a little water if the dough is too dry or a little flour if it is too moist. Knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth, then shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest 30 minutes.
Cut the pasta dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping the others covered, roll out each piece using a pasta machine into a thin sheet. Sprinkle each sheet generously with semolina flour and roll up loosely jelly roll-style. Cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips with curly edges using a reginette attachment. Toss with semolina flour to prevent sticking. Spread out in a single layer on a few semolina-dusted trays. (If you don’t have a reginette attachment, you can order one from Fantes or simply cut into tagliatelle or pappardelle, or whatever shape you fancy.)
To cook: Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the reginette and cook until al dente; drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Stir 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the pesto in the serving bowl. Add the drained pasta, and stir to coat. Adjust the salt if necessary and stir in additional reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce seems too thick to properly coat the pasta. Serve hot.