Pesto Performance: An Inspired Culinary Solitude

I seem to be getting the hang of this ‘living alone’ thing. I am trying to avoid getting to comfortable living in my own filth with no one around to tell me what to do, as eventually the housemates will be back from the winter holidays. Nonetheless, without the immediate pressure to CLEAN EVERYTHING IN THE HOUSE, I have had some time to experiment with recipes and cooking. As I’ve been lamenting in previous entries, the ominous freezing rain outside the window is a deterrent from walking through the streets, enhancing the romanticist perspectives we Americans have of the Italian world.

OK, enough philosophy. Yesterday I was feeling inspired and perhaps a bit ashamed that I am here in Italy studying gastronomy with absolutely no cooking skills (well some, but… nothing to call home about). I said to myself, enough salad, enough sandwiches, “Michelle you’re going to make yourself a grownup meal.” I needed to act quickly as these bursts of culinary inspiration are few and far between.

It was a pasta night. I rushed to the grocery store, bought myself some fusili pasta, sundried tomatoes soaked in oil with capers, cannelini beans (white beans), goat cheese, fresh bread, and a bottle of Cabernet. What did I make?? Only the best pesto pasta in the history of man…of course.


Whoever said cooking for yourself is a depressed, reclusive, liar. Of many of the nights I’ve had in this house, I have to say that last night might have been one of the most entertaining. If I was going to make this huge expansive dinner for myself, I was going all out. I put the music on in the kitchen (Italian of course), put water to boil on the stove, and with the flick of the flame my night of culinary excstasy began!

Rather then explaining how delicious my meal was, I figure it’s more important to share the wealth and give you my recipe for the world’s best pesto pasta.

Sassy Solidarity Pesto:


  • Fusilli Pasta (100g/person)
  • Sundried Tomatoes (to taste, I used about 4 big ones)
  • Salt: To taste
  • 1/2-1 TBSP Coarse Salt (for pasta water)
  • Pesto Sauce (I used Barilla)
  • 1/2 can Cannellini Beans (Italian white beans)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove red garlic
  • 1 small finely diced onion

1) Put water up for boil. It’s always nice to do this first because by the time your finished chopping and preparing your veggies the pasta is ready to be put in the pot. Do not forget to add salt to your water or your pasta will taste really bland

2) Finely chop garlic and onion, put into pan with olive oil. Saute until onions become translucent (In Italian the onion/garlic/olive oil saute is called a Soffritto and makes up the base of any good hearty pasta sauce.

3) Take 4 large sundried tomatoes and chop coarsely. I used sundried tomatoes from a jar filled with oil as these are more tender, but normal dry sundried tomatoes should work just fine.

4) Once onion/garlic mixture is ready add beans and sundried tomatoes to the pan, add a bit more olive oil to prevent burning, as well as a pinch of table salt.

5) Is the water boiling? Good. Put your fusilli in the boiling water until it reaches Al Dente (about 9-10 minutes)

6) Drain pasta and place into a large bowl. Add veggie/bean mixture from the pan, and a goccio (drop) of olive oil. Mix well.

7) Add 2-3 large spoonfuls of pesto sauce, and as much goats cheese* as you like (I added a lot because I like my pesto pasta super creamy). Mix. *Some prefer not to fully mix in goats cheese as it might be tasty to leave it in large creamy chunks.

8) Serve. Mangia like you’ve never Mangia-ed before.

My Pesto Masterpiece

I don’t know if my wine choice (Cabernet) was what a Sommelier would recommend with a pesto dish, but I’ll speak from personal experience that I thought it complimented the meal quite nicely. The fresh bread wasn’t too bad either. In a full, partially drunken stupor, I fell asleep feeling fulfilled and utterly satisfied. I was under the impression that I didn’t have the capacity to cook, but the truth of the matter is I just have ‘Kitchen Fright’

Ah, another night in the Grassroots Gourmet household, and another recipe for the books. Sadly what awaits me now is the aftermath of cleaning my kitchen…but I’d say it was well worth the mess. 😉

Buon Ingrassamento! (Happy Weight Gain!)

One thought on “Pesto Performance: An Inspired Culinary Solitude

  1. Deana Beckner

    Hello, Michelle

    What wonderful experiences you are having in Italy. I am throughly amazed at your interest and knowledge of food. Great web site which requires a lot of time and talent. Best of Luck to YOU……Deana

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