TECHNICALLY. TECHNICALLY. TECHNICALLY.
I am writing the word multiple times to remind myself how much I say and NEED to stop saying it. I know a lot of people use that word too but it seems that people now use it in a manner to correct others or prove their own points.
I am VERY guilty of saying “technically that isn’t a blah blah blah” when it comes to food. (I think the day I had my tabbouleh tantrum I uttered those words.)
It comes up more than I’d like to admit. One of my friends will be describing a dish they are cooking or that they had the other night and then before they finish their last sentence….I chime in with “Technically that isn’t how you make that.”
The response I receive is usually “the recipe got tweaked because I don’t like certain ingredients in the classic preparation.” (Okay, none of my friends are snooty enough to say “classic preparation”…I am but they aren’t.)
I retort that I understand their resistance but “technically” they can’t call it by the classic name.
My behavior is borderline obnoxious. I’m not proud but not in denial. I knew this was part of my personality but I didn’t realize how off putting it was until the other day.
I was reading an article from Bon Appetit about a tomato “pesto”(pesto alla trapanese). It was simply cherry tomatoes, basil, almonds, olive oil and garlic. The recipe looks amazing and then I read some feedback from readers on social media. Even the author of article admits that it surprised him that it was pesto. (He saw a chef making it on TV.) They were all railing on the fact that it was called a “pesto.”
It was like a freshly Windexed mirror was put in front of my face. That is what I sound like. It is dreadful. These people are being jerky without even exploring more about the recipe. They weren’t being conversational, they were just being snarky.
But what I found really interesting is that this IS the Sicilian version of pesto so it IS a pesto as the BA author says. Technically speaking….a pesto can be anything that is pounded or crushed in the preparation. (One more “technically” for the road.”)
The regular pesto most of us have seen in restaurants is from Genoa. Like so much food, they are similar but it is more of how a certain region had access to ingredients.
The “green” pesto is primarily made with cheese, pine nuts, lots of basil, olive oil and garlic. It is one of those things that people like a lot or don’t care for at all.
The “red” pesto is probably a little more tolerable for most Americans because we grew up with “red” Italian food.
I like both and over the years have merged the two versions into one of my favorite dinners. I love the tomato aspect especially this time of year when they are still popping up in my garden and I’m heavy handed with my garlic and basil. The nuts are usually what I have opened up in my fridge so that is a varying component.
The funniest part is that I make it in a food processor so I probably “shouldn’t” call it a pesto because there is no crushing or pounding involved.
So the best part of all this is not that I came up with a rough recipe that is delicious….I learned that when I interrupt a sentence with technically….I’m missing an opportunity to learn from others….and not sound like a pest….oh!
Red Green Don’t Be Mean Pesto
4-6 cloves garlic (I am super aggressive with garlic…so feel free to lessen the amount)
2 cups of your favorite cherry tomato
1 cup of roasted nuts (pine, almonds, walnuts..pick your fav)
2 cups of fresh basil
1 cup grated parmesan (the good stuff not the bottled)
1/2 cup+ of really good extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces (roughly) of your favorite pasta, cooked per instructions reserving at least ½ cup of the pasta water (if I don’t use a whole box of pasta, I put it in Ziplocs with corresponding timed pastas and then use it up in weeknight dinners like this.)
In a food processor, chop your garlic first.
Next, add your tomatoes, nuts, basil and parm.
Twirl until it gets chunky.
Drizzle in olive oil. ½ cup usually makes it the consistency I like but feel free to add more if your tomatoes weren’t particular juicy.
Taste. I usually don’t have to add salt because the cheese brings it but I do like a crack of pepper.
Mix with warm pasta. I add a little pasta water to help the sauce adhere to the noodles.