Linguine With Cilantro and Chive Pesto
Serves 4. Excerpted from “Heart & Soul in the Kitchen” © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. “While vacationing with Gloria and her mother, Julia, in Puerto Rico, where Julia was born, I spotted a small restaurant that looked inviting. A young woman who was the chef came out to talk to me, and we went there for dinner. She had cilantro pesto on her menu. Gloria and I loved it, and I have since made my version of the dish many times when cilantro and chives come up in my garden.”
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups (lightly packed) fresh cilantro leaves
1¼ cups sliced (1-inch) fresh chives
2/3 cup water
1¼ teaspoons salt
1¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted in a 350 F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, skin left on, or pecans
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound linguine, preferably imported
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Hot pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
1. For the pesto: Put the garlic, cilantro, chives, water, salt and pepper in a blender (a blender makes a smoother pesto than a food processor) and blend for about 30 seconds, until pureed. (You may have to push the mixture down into the blender a few times.) Add the nuts and all but 1 tablespoon of the oil and process until you have a beautiful green puree. (Makes about 2 cups.)
2. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and pour the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top; this coating will prevent discoloration. Refrigerate until ready to use. (The pesto will keep for a couple of days.)
3. At cooking time, bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the linguine, stir well, and cook for about 10 minutes, until al dente (or to your taste).
4. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the reserved water, the pesto, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
5. Divide the pasta among four hot plates. Serve with the remaining ¼ cup cheese and, if desired, pepper flakes.