Both of my roommates are now gone – both of them off to Europe for separate reasons. I’m left here to fend for myself. Both of them will be in Italy at one point or another and I am extremely jealous. It’s really not fair. One of them had mentioned that he was going through Genova, Italy and I immediately stopped him. I told him that it was IMPERATIVE that he stopped in Genova and ordered some pesto of any kind. Genova is the birthplace of pesto and it is impossible to replicate here in North America. It’s gotta be the air over there or something. Everything just tastes better… especially the pesto. So in honour of this, I’m making my own home-style pesto… with bacon, of course.

What makes this pesto home-style, you ask? Well, I’ll be chopping everything by hand, the way Nonna used to make it. No food processor here. You’ll wind up with a more heterogeneous texture where you’ll be able to distinguish all of the flavours within the pesto. This is in contrast to making one homogeneous paste where all the flavours meld into one. I much prefer the first.

Ingredients

1 big handful Basil Leaves

2 strips Maple Leaf Bacon

3 cloves Garlic

~¼ cup Pine nuts

~¼ cup Olive Oil

½ cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

½ lb Gnocchi

Serves 2 as an appetizer with lots of leftover pesto!

Directions

1. Grab your pine nuts and toss them into a dry pan. Turn the heat up to high and keep them moving. We want to slightly toast them. As soon as you can smell the hint of nut and notice that the outsides are turning slightly brown, take the pine nuts off the heat and onto a cool dish. They burn VERY quickly!

2. Into that same pan, throw down your strips of bacon. Yes, I know I said 2 strips in the ingredient list above, and there are 4 in the picture. I ate two strips, you have a problem with that?

3. Grab your basil, your garlic and your toasted pine nuts and throw them all down on your board.

4. With a sharp knife start chopping a little bit of your basil, then incorporate a clove of garlic and keep chopping. Then add in some of your pine nuts. Then more basil, more garlic, more pine nuts etc. Adding the ingredients a little at a time as you continue to chop gives a range of textures that are absolutely fantastic. I like mine fairly rough, but if you like your chop a little finer, continue to do so. I’m not stopping you! Heck, you could use the food processor if you really wanted.

5. Chop up your two strips of crispy bacon in the same way. Nice and small.

6. Throw your pesto mix, bacon and lots of parmigiano reggiano into a large bowl. Add in your olive oil and mix together. I didn’t really measure the olive oil, because I drizzled it in as I mixed. I stopped adding just after it stopped being soaked up by the mixture and there was some residual in the bowl.

7. Cook your gnocchi according to package instructions in SALTED boiling water (should only take a couple minutes if you’re using fresh gnocchi). If the pasta water isn’t salty, this dish will be bland, due to its simplicity. Please, for the love of God, salt your pasta water.

8. In warm pan, mix together a couple tablespoons of your pesto with your cooked gnocchi. I did this in the pan where I fried my bacon. I just wiped out the remaining grease with a paper towel (the gnocchi will soak up the remaining flavours there).

9. Plate with some extra freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and a drizzling of good quality olive oil. You’ll be in Genova in your mind soon enough.