Nino Mosca is an Napolitan chef and maitre de maison of Relais & Chateaux Il Bottaccio in the heart of Tuscany, Italy. He shares with The Kitchen a variation of the typical Basil pesto and gives a crash course on Italian competitiveness.
The rivalry between the so-called Maritime Republics (Genoa, Amalfi, Pisa and Venice) goes back centuries, all port cities at the crossroads of trade and openings to the world. There have been numerous disputes between them, but today they are mostly history.
There is one quarrel, however, that has survived the passage of time: Pesto Genovese (basil) versus Pesto Amalfitano (parsley).
Spaghetti all’Amalfitana recipe
Cooking time: 15 minutes
4 salted anchovies
10 grams of capers (around 2 tablespoons)
15 gr of pine nuts (around 2 ½ tablespoons)
4 tablespoons green olives
2 green Fennel tops
3 cups of parsley leaves
5 grams of lemon zest (around ½ tablespoon)
1 and ½ tablespoon of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil ½ cup
½ Garlic clove - Salt and pepper to taste
400 grams of spaghetti
1 pinch of chili flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Carefully drain and rinse the salt-packed anchovies and capers. Place all ingredients in a blender with an ice cube and blend until a fine pesto sauce is obtained. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is your pesto. Now we will use it to make Spaghetti all’Amalfitana.
Cook the pasta in a large pot with boiling salted water following package instructions. Reserve some pasta water.
Dress the spaghetti with the pesto. Serve immediately and top with good quality parmesan cheese.
History and rivalry
The sauces, from each city's point of view, were too familiar to ignore but too different to tolerate.
Pesto Genovese uses basil, the aromatic plant of infinite use, whereas Pesto Amalfitano uses parsley, whose name derives from the Greek "petroselion sativum" (from petra - "stone" - and selinon - "celery"). Parsely, it seems, grew spontaneously among the rocks of Macedonia.
In the Neapolitan dialect Parsley is called "petrosino," it comes from the saying: "petrusino in ogni menesta." It means, Petrosino, the one who intrudes in every discussion even if it does not concern him. Parsley is used in almost every Neapolitan dish or sauce. You can see the connection.
Also famous are the lemons of the Amalfi Coast (product I.G.P.), which have found their way into the Amalfi Pesto and make the fragrance that competes with the scents of Basil in the Genoese version. Amalfitan Pesto also uses salted anchovies, capers and green olives. The common points of the two plates are are pine nuts, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Ingredients that are impossible to leave out of any pesto.