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Milk Street Bowtie Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto (Spaghetti al Pesto di Prezzemolo)

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto (Spaghetti al Pesto di Prezzemolo)

4 to 6 Servings

25 minutes

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“Spaghetti with parsley pesto” is the literal translation, from the Italian, of spaghetti al pesto di prezzemolo, but it does not sufficiently convey the deliciousness of this dish. The recipe is an adaptation of one taught to us by chef Antonio Cioffi at La Vecchia Cantina in Ravello near the Amalfi Coast. Cioffi uses neither nuts nor Parmesan in his incredibly savory parsley pesto. Rather, its umami richness and full, complex flavor came from colatura di alici, an Italian fermented anchovy condiment akin to Southeast Asian fish sauce. As we worked to re-create the dish, we learned that though the two fish-based ingredients share similarities, they were not interchangeable in this application. Colatura di alici is saltier, less pungent and smoother in taste than fish sauce. It does, however, require a trip to an Italian specialty store, so in its stead, ; we found just a single oil-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry, to be a good substitute. better substitution than fish sauce. We also adopted Cioffi’s technique of quickly blanching the parsley before pureeing it; this step is key for creating a luxurious, silky-smooth pesto with an emerald green hue. Lemon zest and juice added at the very end bring citrusy sparkle to the dish. If you wish to use a different pasta than spaghetti, twisty shapes such as fusilli and gemelli work nicely.

4 to 6

Servings

Tip

Don’t skip the step of “shocking” the parsley in ice water after briefly blanching it. This immediately stops the cooking, keeping the color and flavor bright and fresh. Also, don’t worry about wringing every last drop of water out of the parsley before pureeing. A little moisture is fine and helps with easy blending.

25 minutes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 4 ounces), trimmed of bottom 1 inch
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
2 1/2 teaspoons colatura di alici (see headnote) or 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 pound spaghetti
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more grated zest to serve
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 1

    large bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 4 ounces), trimmed of bottom 1 inch

  • 1

    small garlic clove, smashed and peeled

  • teaspoons colatura di alici (see headnote) or 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry

  • ¾

    cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    pound spaghetti

  • 4

    teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more grated zest to serve

Directions

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto (Spaghetti al Pesto di Prezzemolo)

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Reviews
Gisela C.
November 4, 2022
Truly mind blowing and delicious!
This parsley pesto is so simple, but so amazingly tasty! This is a keeper. I do wish the recipe had a better quantity for the parsley as I grow my own - is 4 ounces by weight or volume?
Joanna W.
October 8, 2022
An interesting side
Tasty and easy to make, but very much a side dish. Flavors don't last long in the fridge so finish it quick.