I am a man of few wants and needs. And so on this Father’s Day, my requests were simple: An hour at the gym, followed by a little espresso, the Sunday Times, blueberry pecan pancakes, mozzarella di bufala with tomato, pasta al pesto, home made blueberry pie, and maybe a nip of Campari and a chilled glass or two pinot grigio. This is my exact request every Father’s Day, and so to me it seems even more reasonable because it allows for 364 days of preparation. I also ask just one more thing, which is for everyone to do as I say, no questions asked.
I will now recount the conversation that I just had with my 12 year old boy Sebastiano. Me: “Please make your bed?” Him: “I’m tired.” Me: “Read your book.” Him: “I’m tired.” Me: “Brush your teeth.” Him: “I’m tired.” Me: “Turn off your iPad.” Him: “I’m tired.” And finally, Me: “Do you want to go play tennis?” Him: “Yes, now!” Bursts of energy can be so unpredictable.
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and so today I myself mustered up just enough energy to do exactly what I wanted to do, which was to whip up some racchette al pesto (tennis rackets for Sebastian, pesto for Veronica), and then to enjoy everything else that was handed to me on a silver platter. As I am sure you can sympathize, I am now tired. Exhausted. Kaput.
Gently wash the basil in cold water and pat dry with a towel. Crush a glove of garlic in the mortar and add some basil (30 leaves per clove), and then a sprinkle of salt. In a gentle circular motion, use the mortar to tear the basil until it turns into a bright green oily liquid. Repeat this process until all the basil and garlic are added. Add the pine nuts and gently crush them into the mixture. Next, add the cheese. When the cheese is mixed in, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and mix together. At this point, the pesto is ready to use.
Prepare the green beans: cut off the ends, and cut them into 2 or 3 pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite sized cubes. You will cook the potatoes, pasta and beans in the same pot, and so you must time their addition to the pot according. Bring a large pot of salted water (the same one to be used for the pasta) to a boil. Depending on the type of potato and pasta, you will probably add the potato first, then the pasta after a few minutes, and then the beans near the end. (For this pasta, it’s cooking time was 10 minutes, so it went in first, then the potatoes at 5 minutes, and the beans with 2 minutes left.) Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, retaining some of the cooking water. Place the pesto in a large bowl and add a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Add the pasta, potatoes and beans to the bowl and mix together. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.
Note: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor, but use it on pulse mode, so as to avoid turning this into a puree. There should be a fine, leafy consistency.