Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard cheese produced in the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia provinces of Italy. By law, only cheeses produced in these areas can have this name; all imitation cheeses are labeled “Parmesan.”
Both of these recipes use hefty doses of Parmesan cheese. We’re saving our fancy, $15-$20 Parmigiano-Reggiano for appetizer cheese plates, to enjoy with cocktails and olives before dinner. For mixing into recipes where you’re not going to specifically taste the cheese, consider buying some locally ground cheese. “But definitely stay away from the stuff in the green can in the aisle!” jokes Chef Orr.
Usually in a traditional Italian pesto, you would add pinenuts, but this recipe includes an Indiana touch instead: pumpkin seeds. These shelled pumpkin seeds will add additional green color to the pesto.
When you’re seasoning this dish, be careful with the salt. The Parmesan adds salt to the dish, and cooking pasta in salted water adds some saltiness, as well. “As I always say,” advises Chef Daniel Orr, “you can always add more salt but you can’t take it out once you’ve put it in.”
- 1/2 pound pasta
- 2 cups packed herbs (basil and mint)
- 1 cup packed spinach
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2-3/4 pound penne pasta
- garnish with white cilantro flowers
- Combine herbs, spinach, garlic, lemon zest, cheese, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and salt. Blend.
- Cook pasta or reheat pre-cooked pasta.
- Move pasta into a warm pan. Add one-two healthy spoonfuls of pesto to pasta
- Garnish with white cilantro flowers and a sprig of basil.
Aglio E Olio
This is a classic Italian dish, translated as garlic and olive oil. “Usually you’d have it during the mid-week when you don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen,” says Chef Daniel Orr. One fancy addition to this dish is marjoram, a classy herb that’s similar to oregano but “dressed up in a Chanel suit.”
- 1/2 pound pasta
- 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic
- sweet marjoram
- 1/3 cup loosely packed mint
- 1/3 cup loosely packed basil
- 1/3 cup scallions chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Add pasta to garlic, olive oil, and rosemary.
- Add red pepper flakes and lemon zest.
- Chop up additional herbs.
- Serve with dish of Parmesan on side. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the finished dish.