Radiatori - these small, squat pieces of pasta - have a much-disputed origin story. Whilst there are some who believe these pasta were first created in Italy in the interwar years, there are those who claim that in fact they were designed in the 1960s and modelled on the radiator grill of the famous Bugatti motor car. But, whatever the context of their conception, radiatori are undeniably industrial in their appearance, with deep grooves and a straight, central ‘pipe’ that runs the length of each piece they certainly resemble these traditional heating fixtures.
The word ‘pesto’ earns its moniker from the Genoese word ‘pestâ’, which means ‘to pound’ or ‘crush’. Traditionally, all of the ingredients for pesto were ground in a marble mortar, so, strictly speaking, pesto can refer to any sauce made by grinding together ingredients. While we love the variety of different flavour combinations this fluidity affords, a special place in our heart is reserved for the classic pesto alla Genovese, a favourite of our founder who grew up making this classic sauce with his nonna in Liguria. For our pesto alla Genovese, we honour tradition, using sweet and subtle pine nuts, fragrant basil, good quality extra virgin olive oil, and a good helping of garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano. Buon appetito!
Our recipe for radiatori with pesto alla Genovese
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Calories per serving: 540kcal
For the pasta
- 500g radiatori pasta
For the pesto
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups basil, cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
Chef’s tip: we advise using a pestle and mortar for your pesto, as this enables you to control the texture of your sauce, which traditionally should be a little rugged. A food processor will work here too, though this will not render as rustic a pesto.
Be sure to take a look at our video below on making basil pesto. You can follow along as our chef Roberta whips up her own batch of this delicious pesto.
- Start by gently toasting the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat until they turn slightly brown in colour and are fragrant. Keep them moving to prevent burning. In the case that any get dark brown, be sure to remove them before adding to the basil as they will impart a burnt flavour to the pesto.
- Put the basil, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, minced garlic clove and 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil to a pestle and mortar and grind until creamy
- Add the pine nuts and grind until they start to break down and combine with the oil and basil mixture. You should have a creamy yet slightly chunky consistency.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil and continue to grind until you have a creamy paste. We recommend leaving it a little rustic as this will help it adhere to the pasta.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt once bubbling. Add the radiatori and cook to packet instructions.
- Drain your radiatori, reserving a little of the pasta water. Return your pesto to a pan, and add in a splash of the reserved starchy water. Stir this mixture, until the pesto is slightly looser in consistency, before tossing in your pasta, coating each piece liberally in this delicious and punchy sauce. Serve with a generous layer of Parmigiano Reggiano, and some more toasted pine nuts, should you have any remaining.
For five more inspired recipes, be sure to check out our further endeavours in pesto here, and get experimenting with your own gnocchi-pesto pairings!
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.