Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ina's Green Pasta

Ina moved to the US as a child, from the town of Genoa, Italy. I met her in 1976, when she turned 76 herself. It was then that she shared her recipe for "green pasta" with me. The title is hers, though most cooks today call pasta sauce using green herbs a genovese style pesto. I've taken liberties with her recipe over the years, lessening the butter one year, adding a new kind of thickener another year. But even though the amounts of ingredients have changed, I've retained her charming "handful" measurements, though they're also interpreted in cupfuls. Here's my current version of green pasta - at least for today.


1 piece sourdough bread, crusts removed and cubed
1/4 cup soy half and half
1 clover garlic, minced
1 small handful sweet basil (1/2 cup)
1 small handful Italian parsley (1/2 cup)
1 tsp. butter
1 tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tbs. pine nuts

6 oz. spinach fettucine, or pasta of choice
several quarts of boiling water
salt to taste


Fill a cookpot with several quarts of water and bring to a boil. Prepare the sauce while the water is heating.

To prepare the sauce, pour the half and half over bread, then set aside to soak. Place garlic, basil, parsley, butter, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until well mixed, and herbs are finely minced. Add milk soaked bread, along with parmesan and pine nuts to the sauce. Process again until mixed. Set aside until pasta is cooked.

Add fettucine or pasta to boiling water, and follow package directions for cooking time. Drain pasta, then add drained pasta to the green sauce. Add salt to taste.

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish.

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Stories help healthy food come alive. My kids, and now my grandkids, always want to hear the story about Ina coming to this country from Italy, and how she brought this family recipe with her. Sharing stories about family, friends, and heirloom recipes helps the food come alive - if it's healthy food, so much the better!

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