BASIL PESTO / OLD WORLD ITALIAN BOOK REVIEW

Feature image Old world Italian
There is nothing I don’t love about this book! From the cover ( zucchini flowers!) to the absolute beautiful photography by Oddur Thorisson ( Mimi’s husband) to the writing style, the descriptions and recipe stories, and of course the recipes themselves. Simply stunning!
I read a couple of not so kind reviews on Amazon when I purchased the book, and I’m so glad they didn’t put me off. One comment was that it is a very meat heavy book, which it is. The other was that most of the images are of Mimi and her wealthy family and that it is very pretentious and privileged. Which I thought not only unkind, but unnecessary.

If you like Italian food, are interested in regional specialities, authentic recipes and ingredients ( and you don’t have a problem with a good looking family following their dreams and moving to Italy to write a book) then you will hopefully enjoy this book as much as I do !
I have made many of the recipes and they are all well written and easy to follow. My only critique of the book is that for a high end book, which it obviously is, there is no ribbon. Other than that small detail I can find no fault. Old World Italian is just as the name and cover suggest, beautiful, timeless and unmistakably Italian chic.

Diptych of basil pesto
Basil Pesto prep in a pestle and mortar

Basil Pesto needs no introduction. It is a classic example of a few very good ingredients, simply treated and turned into something quite extraordinary.

Whilst I am all about good quality ingredients, it turns out I’m not such a purist when it comes to technique. I had a massive amount of basil growing in my garden, and thought I would have a go at making pesto the traditional way in a pestle and mortar. Needless to say I didn’t get very far. Maybe I need a bigger pestle and mortar, but after the first batch I gave up and pulled out my food processor. Either way, whether you go old school or follow my lead you will be rewarded with this verdant delicious sauce just waiting to be dolloped on pasta, pizza, toast and everything else you have in the fridge.

PESTO ALLA GENOVESE from Old World Italian, by Mimi Thorisson

INGREDIENTS

2 cloves garlic, halved

1-2 tsp fine sea salt

30g pinenuts

3 bunches basil, washed and patted dry ( remove the stalks)

100g Parmesan cheese, grated

30g Pecorina grated

120ml good quality olive oil

METHOD

  1. If using a pestle and mortar, start by crushing the garlic with half the salt until creamy. Add the pine nuts and remaining salt and keep bashing until all crushed. When creamy add the basil leaves ( I did find it easier to cut or at least tear into smaller pieces) and pound in a circular motion. When smooth add the cheeses and little by little the olive oil. Contine crushing until all the ingredients are soft and creamy.
    If using a food processor follow the same order of whizzing the ingredients, first the garlic, followed by he pignuts and then the basil and cheeses.
  2. Serve over hot pasta or store in the fridge for spreading bruschetta or dolloping on salad.

OLD WORLD ITALIAN, recipes and secrets from our travels in Italy, by Mimi Thorisson is published by Clarkson Potter.
This post is not sponsored, I do not know the author or the publisher. I paid for the book myself, and all opinions are my own.

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Pesto Alla Genovese

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