Pesto Rigatoni

Savoring pesto in the hills of Tuscany was one of the most memorable experiences gathered from my time studying abroad. It is no wonder why it is so easy to fall in love with Italy. It is my goal to perfect the art of pesto just like they do in Cinque Terre, Italy. I chose to prepare this pesto dish for my study abroad Florence friends, Angela, Christina, and Dani, who I reminisced with recently. I know the pesto doesn’t compare to Italy’s but they told me it was delicious, so that made me feel good, despite knowing I have some improvements to make. But, when it comes down to it, when you have friends that share a deep love for Italy, accompanied by a semi-homemade pasta meal ( I did not roll out the pasta), oh, and of course some wine, food tastes good and people are merry. Thank you again to Angela, Christina, and Dani for sharing this meal with me and giving me loads of encouragement to follow my dreams as a chef. I will never forget the support you have given me in tasting my food and acknowledging my passion for food. You will always have a seat at my table be it at a restaurant or my home. Thanks!
This dish was made almost exactly as the other pesto dish I have posted before. The only difference is that I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. I now know that I prefer pine nuts because they give a more creamy, but light texture, where walnuts can be more grainy. But, in any case, the dish was flavorful. I would have liked to make my own pasta, but due to time constraints I bought Rigatoni pasta instead. It worked out great and the sauce seemed to grab hold of the rigatoni well, which is the biggest concern when choosing pasta. Thick and hearty sauces such as meat sauce or a hearty pesto are best paired with bigger cuts of pasta like fettucine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, macaroni, and rigatoni. On the other hand, lighter sauces like a lemon and garlic toss, pomodori, or marinara are best with angel hair or spaghetti.
I enjoy making pesto pasta because it is an impressive dish but not that difficult to make. In fact, you can make the pesto a day in advance and then just make the pasta the day of your event. This way you can spend more time with your guests and can work on cool appetizers instead. Giada de Laurentiis advises that you really shouldn’t have to do too much the day of the party or event. I think she’s got it right. And this dish works perfect in that way.
  • Homemade pesto sauce- about 1 1/2 cups
  • At least 1 lb rigatoni or other thick cut of pasta. Can cook a bit more.
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
Cook pasta according to directions on box. “Al dente” is best. While pasta is still warm, stir in pesto sauce. Toss to coat and serve warm. Serve with extra parmesan on the side.

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