In the middle of a frigid winter it is a good idea to remind yourself that summer will inevitably follow. A bright pesto, fragrant with fresh basil will melt any icicles that have started to grow over your increasingly cynical soul and evoke those warm days to come.
Thinking Ahead: The pesto can be made, covered and refrigerated, up to a day in advance.
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from O magazine
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound rigatoni
4 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Heat oven to 300°F. Spread walnuts on a oven-safe frying pan and toast until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely.
2. Combine 1/4 cup nuts, basil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. With motor running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the olive oil until a smooth sauce has formed. Chop remaining nuts and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add rigatoni and cook according to package instructions. Drain, saving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat, until browned. Remove to a bowl, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan.
4. Return skillet to medium heat and add green beans, cook until bright in color, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and cover. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add sausage, pasta, pesto and remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid to frying pan (or back to pasta pot, if frying pan is not big enough) and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with chopped walnuts on top.