Africhef for great South African Recipes and South African Cooking

Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce
Spaghetti with a classic sauce

Spaghetti and Macaroni are favorites with basically all economic stratas of South African society.

The poorer sections using the pasta as a cheap way to bulk out limited meat availability while trhe more affluent use the more traditional Italian sauces.

The word pesto derives from pestare, to step on or mash, and therefore can be applied to a number of different sauces.

However, to an Italian the word PESTO by itself means the classic Ligurian summer sauce made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese.

To serve 4 to 6 as a first course or 4 as a main course with a tossed salad you will need:

Ingredients for Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce

1 cup [250ml] fresh basil leaves – tightly packed
¼ cup [62ml] grated aged pecorino cheese (a GOOD parmesan will substitute)
½ cup [125ml] grated Parmigiano (increase this to ¾cup [187ml] if no pecorino)
2 cloves of garlic
2/3 cup [165ml] extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp [2.2ml] salt
½ cup [125ml] pine nuts
1/3 cup [85ml] walnut kernels (optional) But if possible I would definitely include them
1 pound (500 g) spaghetti


If you have a marble mortar and pestle and wish to use it (purists say neither brass nor wood mortars will work), put the salt, garlic, nuts and basil in it and grind the mixture, firmly crushing the ingredients against the sides of the mortar, rather than striking sharp blows with the pestle.

When the mixture is ground, add the cheese, a bit at a time, continuing to grind

When all the cheese is worked in, add the oil in a slow stream, stirring with a wooden spatula.

The resulting pesto should be smooth and creamy.

If you are using a food processor instead, chop the garlic, basil, and nuts.

Add salt, being careful not to let the mixture liquefy

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese and the oil.

Cook 500g (1lb) of spaghetti in lightly salted water, and just before you drain it stir two tablespoons of the hot water into the sauce.

Pour the pesto sauce over the pasta and serve.

Extra grated parmesan or pecorino is optional as is a fresh grinding of black pepper. (I like the pepper!)



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