Homemade linguine with basil pesto, trumpet mushrooms, pecorino romano, and pine nuts

I had never heard of pesto until I got to college. During my freshman year I had a crummy work-study job ladling food at the cafeteria. On my first day I was assigned to the pasta and pizza line. The pasta section had one big tub with the requisite overcooked, mushy noodles adjacent to smaller tubs with marinara, alfredo, and a big green oil slick with the then unknown to me sauce. There was some leafy matter at the bottom, but the top two thirds was just olive oil and you had to stir it up really well so as not to flood the serving plates with grease. During my break, I decided to try some of the stuff and was instantly hooked. I loved how concentrated all the salty, garlicky, and fatty flavors were, like a flavor bomb in my mouth.

Nowadays I make my own pesto, though it’s not quite as oily. It’s an easy way to get rid of extra herbs and greens. Although it seemed so foreign to me as a student, pesto has become that easy, go-to to recipe for when I’m not feeling terribly creative. By hand or by food processor,┬áit’s an instant reminder of that first time.

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