Cooking with Jonathan By Jonathan Jolicoeur

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In this weekly culinary column, I will be focusing on one dish – giving the reader a quick history of the dish, the classical
preparation of it, and of course, my own spin on the classic.

This week I have chosen to cover a popular Italian dish – pesto. Pesto originated in the Northern Italian region of Liguria. This sauce traditionally consists of only a few main ingredients: basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. The earliest forms of pesto date back to the Roman Empire and was a paste called moretum, which was made by crushing garlic, herbs and cheese together in a mortar.

Classic Pesto

3 bunches​Basil
6 cloves​Garlic, peeled and chopped
½ cup​Pine nuts, toasted
1 ½ cup​Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup​Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Pick basil leaves from the stems and roughly chop. Place the chopped basil, garlic and pine nuts into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients while drizzling the oil into the mix slowly. Once all of the oil is incorporated, remove from the food processor and mix in the cheese. Serve over your favorite pasta, as a dip or however you would like.

Jonathan’s Pesto

2 bunches​Basil
2 handfuls​Spinach, washed
4 cloves​Garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ cup​Pepitas, shelled and toasted
¼ cup​Pine nuts, toasted
1 ½ cup​Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp​Lemon zest, chopped
¼ cup​Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
¼ cup​Pecorino cheese
to taste​salt and pepper

Pick basil leaves from the stems and roughly chop. Place the chopped basil, spinach, garlic, pepitas, pine nuts and lemon zest into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients while drizzling the oil into the mix slowly. Once all of the oil is incorporated, remove from the food processor, mix in the cheeses and season to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta, as a dip or however you would like.

Whether you choose to prepare the classic, my twist or your own interpretation, remember that food is about bringing people together and that the act of cooking is about caring and as long as your heart is in the dish you prepare, the people you are cooking for will appreciate it (and you).

If you have any questions for me or would like to see me cover any particular dish in this column, feel free to write me, care of this publication. From my kitchen to yours, it is my pleasure to give you a peek into the mind of a chef. Thank You

Jonathan Jolicoeur is a chef at A Tavola – an Italian restaurant on Church Street in Winchester – which focuses on “farm to table” style of cooking. Jonathan was born in Somerville, lives in Woburn and has a degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

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