along Via dell'Amore, looking towards Riomaggiore
With that out of the way, I have one last part of my trip to tell you about. Heather sure was right when she told me I would love Cinque Terre. Nestled along the Northwestern coast of Italy (in the Italian Riviera) are 5 towns all connected by footpaths. You can walk/hike along these footpaths, explore each of the small towns, and even relax at a beach! Sounds like a perfect mix of activities to me :)
While the hikes between Riomaggiore-Manarola-Corniglia are relatively easy and relaxing, the paths become a bit more challenging for the Corniglia-Vernazza-Monterosso del Mare section. Unfortunately when I was there the Vernazza-Monterosso section was closed due to some work being done on the trail (the paths aren't that wide, being on the edge of a cliff and all, so it's understandable), but the views from the rest made me quickly forget about that. Absolutely stunning.
looking down on Vernazza
I can't wait to go back, because my stay was not nearly long enough!! Despite my short stint here, I made sure to enjoy all of the Ligurian specialties-- pesto, seafood and foccacia. I've certainly had pesto before, and liked it, but I fell in love with the pesto pasta I had here!
When I saw fresh shelling peas at the farmer's market, I knew I couldn't wait any longer to dig into the jar of pesto that traveled with me from Cinque Terre back home :)
Potatoes, Mushrooms & Peas w/Pesto
Recipe by Shannon
This is a pretty "loose" recipe-- vary the amounts and vegetables to your liking :) Your favorite lean protein would also be a perfect addition!
1lb potatoes (I used small yukon golds that I found at the store)
1 container of baby bellas (10oz?)
1c (or more) freshly shelled peas (you can blanch them if you prefer them more cooked/softer)
1/4-1/3c pesto (jarred or homemade)
freshly ground pepper
Bring a medium pot (fitted with a steamer insert) of water to a boil. Meanwhile, scrub potatoes and cut into pieces so they're all a uniform size. Add to steamer basket and cook until fork tender. Remove potatoes and set aside.
Slice mushrooms and saute in a little olive oil until nicely browned. (I often cover the mushrooms for a few minutes at the beginning to trap the moisture they let out and get them cooking, then remove the lid to finish browning them. They still get good color on them and you use less oil.)
Once mushrooms are done, add the peas and let them cook 1-2minutes. Add the potatoes and pesto, mix well. Turn off the heat, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Savor slowly as each bite takes you back to Cinque Terre... :)
Do you have a favorite pesto recipe??