There’s basil galore sold at farm stands or picked from backyards and even flowerpots on a deck. Pesto made from local basil is sold at most of the stands, from Amber Waves and Round Swamp Farm to the Green Thumb. But the important feature of this recipe, which was contributed by a chef whose Italian seafood restaurant now occupies the former Laundry restaurant building (see page 34 of the book), is quickly blanching then icing the basil. That’s what you must do if you want your pesto to remain bright green. Try to find basil with smaller leaves; it will have the best flavor.

Trofie al Pesto
MAURIZIO MARFOGLIA, DOPO LA SPIAGGIA
SERVES 4

Ingredients:
Salt
4 medium red bliss potatoes (about 8 ounces), cut into 3⁄4-inch dice
1 pound trofie or other short, twisted pasta (such as strozzapreti, fusilli or gemelli)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the potatoes and pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  3. Remove 1⁄2 cup of the pasta water to a large, warm bowl. Stir the pesto sauce into the water. Drain the pasta and potatoes, add to the bowl, fold the ingredients together, and serve with cheese.

BASIL PESTO
(MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP)

Ingredients:
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into small chunks
1⁄4 cup pine nuts
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Prepare a small bowl of ice water. Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Drop in the basil leaves and fish them out with tongs after 30 seconds. Transfer them to the ice water for a couple of minutes. Drain and press with paper towels to dry. Coarsely chop them.
  2. Turn on a food processor. Drop in the garlic through the feed tube. When the garlic is minced, stop the machine, scrape down the sides, and place the basil, cheese and pine nuts in the machine. Process until finely ground. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl, season with salt and pepper, transfer to a container, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

IMPROVEMENT: This recipe includes potatoes with the pasta, a typical recipe from Liguria, the coastal region of Northern Italy that is the home of pesto. Some recipes also include inch-long pieces of tender cooked green beans. You can add those, too.

The Ladies' Village Improve Society Cookbook

RECIPE FROM THE LADIES’ VILLAGE IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY COOKBOOK: EATING AND ENTERTAINING IN EAST HAMPTON BY FLORENCE FABRICANT, RIZZOLI
ALL ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY BY DOUG YOUNG