Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cinque Terre & Pesto

I almost forgot to pick a winner for my Eggland's Best giveaway!  Congrats  Christina!!  Shoot me an email at and I'll get you hooked up with the loot :)

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??


Adrienne said...

Cinque Terre! Be still my heart, that is my FAVORITE place in all of Italy. A friend and I hiked/walked the whole thing in 03, and we took one of the mountain top routes between Monterosso and Vernazza. The climb up was sort of rough (I was not wearing appropriate shoes) but there was a wedding in the church up in Madonna Soviore. Gorgeous. One of my favorite memories of Italy.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, you have totally convinced me that I need to go to Cinque Terre . . . I love hiking, food, and Italy!

Lauren said...

I cannot get enough of those Italy photos... I must plan a trip there soon!

Erica said...

Gorgeous. Glad you had such a fabulous time. I love Pesto. I recently tried a not very elegant, but kind of fun Rachael Ray recipe for Pea-sto.

Joanne said...

All of your Italy posts make me so happy! And insanely jealous but mostly happy.

I am a pesto addict, so I love this dish. Right now basil and pistachio is my favorite combo but it really changes on a weekly basis.

Wasn't the focaccia the best thing on earth!

Anonymous said...

Love all the pictures Shannon! My mom traveled to Italy on a tour - the meals that were on the plan were all the same and pretty awful.

But when they were on their own they loved it!

Elina said...

Cinque Terre is definitely my favorite spot in Italy. It's such a nice change from the craziness of Rome and Florence (which I love as well).
I just made Ellie Krieger's pesto on Saturday. It was good but I wouldn't call it my favorite. I think you need more oil for that. haha

Juliana said...

Oh! Beautiful pictures...and the potato dish with peas look so tasty :-)

Reeni said...

What a gorgeous place to hike! And how lucky to have the pesto - bet it was delicious the way you prepared it.

Clarice said...

Ahh I just happened upon your blog and this post. I loved The Cinque Terre when I went last summer. I don't think I'll ever taste focaccia that good again and until I return there.

We Are Not Martha said...

This looks awesome!! And now I really, really, REALLY need to go to Italy :) I'm making swordfish with pesto for dinner tomorrow and I can't wait!


Natalie said...

Sometimes "loose" recipes are the best kind, maybe not for blogging, but for making! :)

My favorite pesto recipe is the green pizza we made (seen here: Ryan and I STILL talk about how good this was!

Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly said...

Okay so I have finally realized that I don't like pesto. ACK...can we still be friends?!

Kerstin said...

Mmm, this looks like the perfect dinner and way to use your pesto! And your pics are gorgeous!

sophia said...

I just bought 15 lbs of potatoes, Shannon! I am so making something like this!
And girl, you lucky duck! I've always wanted to tour Italy!

Chef Fresco said...

Thanks for following us even though we were gone for a while! Looks like you had a recently amazing trip as well - awesome pics! Your pesto creation looks delicious!

Sophie @ yumventures said...

There is nothing better than pesto (and those pictures! omg i need to go there!)

Faith @ LovelyAsCharged said...

That looks gorgeous...I want more than anything to go to Italy! I've never made a pesto, but I'm dying to pull one together to top my whole grain linguine with.

Ricki said...

Love your photos--sounds like such a great trip! And pesto on potatoes is so delicious. Adding in the peas is a great idea!

Dewi said...

Shannon, thank you for the birthday wishes, you are so sweet :)

My favorite pesto recipe is very simple, I make it a lot during summer and always a hit. The ingredients are easy to find and simple. Basil, garlic, pine nut, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pound them together, that's it! It's delicious.

Simply Life said...

wow, beautiful pictures! Our favorite way to use pesto is as a sauce on pizza!

Alisa said...

OMG, so amazing! That is definitely one place on my to-visit list. Wow.

I like sunflower seed pesto - but no particular dish - on noodles, veggies, whatever.

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