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Sunday, 16 November 2008

Una bella ricetta

Written by Jessica Borges
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A pinch of culture, a spoonful of friends, and a dash of great memories



Fresh scents of tomatoes, basil, pasta, and an array of herbs and spices lured us into the house as soon as the front door opened. As we piled into our Italian professor’s casa for an end of the year celebration dinner, we couldn’t contain our excitement for the delicious food to come.



“Ciao! Ciao! Entri prego,” he welcomed us. Cheerful Italian music danced around us as we filed in with our arms full of groceries. The kitchen and dining room awaited our arrival, set with pots, pans, cooking utensils, and every sort of seasoning known to man.



For our final assignment in our Italian class at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy we had to pair up with another student, select a recipe and bring the ingredients to make our dishes together for a great feast. My partner Lauryn and I were making pasta with pesto sauce.



Our professor had made some appetizers for us to pick at while we went to work on our own recipes. Plates filled with tomato and mozzarella topped bruschetta tempted our taste buds along with sweet onion crostini with pancetta, and toasted ravioli in a savory tomato sauce. The overwhelming blend of scents that distracted us from the task at hand was too tempting to ignore.



Una bella ricetta: A pinch of culture, a spoonful of friends, and a dash of great memories, cooking in italy, travel italy, making pestoIn between bites we tended to our pesto recipe. We placed small handfuls of basil one at a time into the food processor until it was chopped finely before adding in walnuts and some garlic cloves. The scent was amazing!



We then added parmesan cheese and olive oil into the processor and mixed it until it became a smooth pasty consistency. Coming from a meager cooking background with experience in areas such as mac n’ cheese, and heating canned soup, making this little pesto pasta felt like quite the accomplishment. After we poured the pesto sauce over the cooked penne, it looked like a real meal!



Meanwhile, my classmates were putting the finishing touches on their dishes that all looked and smelled incredible. The entire house was filled with good spirits and our bellies were grumbling in anticipation of the final products of our hard work.




We ogled over the colorful array of food before us as each student presented their dish on the center of the table. My eyes danced from dish to dish, immediately selecting my visual favorites that earned extra space on my plate. The room erupted with fresh tongue-tantalizing aromas springing from the chicken parmesan, pasta alla carbonara, bow tie pasta with ground beef and mushroom-tomato-cream sauce, our dish, and a heaping bowl of insalata caprese (salad with fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes) seasoned with salt, black pepper and olive oil.



We gathered around the table for the last time we would all be together as a class. We clanked our wine glasses to toast to the completion of a successful, fun-filled semester, to meeting and making new friends. The wine never tasted so sweet, as it perfectly wet my pallet for the food that would follow.



To our delight, the food came out wonderfully. Each dish had its own unique taste and there was something for everyone. Perhaps everything tasted so delicious simply because we all worked together to create the meal. Knowing that, made every bit that much tastier.



With the lively Italian music playing in the background, surrounded by laughter, good company, and a plentiful home cooked meal, the moment was the quintessential Italian cultural experience. Admittedly, this was also my favorite class assignment of the year, and I’m pretty sure we all got A’s.



© Jessica Borges





Recipe from: Cooking with Amy

Basic Pesto
(makes enough for 4 servings of pasta)

2 cups basil leaves, clean and very dry
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

You can pound the ingredients together in mortar with a pestle, but you can also make this easily in a blender or food processor. Add the garlic first and chop it up with about 1/2 of the basil. When blended add the rest of the basil and the olive oil. Blend the cheese and pine nuts last. Don't over blend or the garlic has a tendency to overpower. Store in the fridge with a thin layer of olive oil on top, wrap tightly with plastic wrap to help prevent discoloration.

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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