Most people can agree that buying a tomato in the dead of winter is not usually a good idea. Not only for seasonal-eating reasons, but also for taste: it's simply not going to taste as good in January. But sometimes you just long for something bright, green, and fresh.
That's where this recipe from Jamie Oliver comes in, which relies on fresh basil. Though good local summer basil would have been ideal, it's pretty good year-round, especially pureed into a sauce.
The recipe is a nod to pesto but without pine nuts to thicken it. Instead, the recipe takes a cue from pasta carbonara, mixing an egg yolk into the base of pureed basil and Parmesan to give it a silky texture. Once it mixes in with a little pasta water, it becomes the creamiest pesto you've ever tasted. A squeeze of lemon rounds out the acidity and the result is a quick and satisfying pasta dish that's a little bit out of the norm.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ounces grated Parmesan
- zest of 1 lemon, plus a little juice to taste
- 1 small bunch fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 pound tagliatelle pasta
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon zest.
Place half the basil in a mortar and pestle (or a small food processor) and mash (or process) to a paste. Add it to the egg mixture. Roughly chop the rest of the basil and add it, too.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Return the cooked pasta to the pot and add the basil-egg mixture. Toss well to combine, then add pasta cooking water little by little until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.