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Chef Bill Varley of Torchio Pasta Bar

Torchio Pasta Bar

738 N. Wells St.

 Chicago, IL

(312) 643-0538


30 oz (3 ¾ cups) Gemelli pasta

12 oz (1 ½ cups) Strings beans, blanched

12 oz (1 ½ cups) Yukon potatoes, quartered

 8 cups fresh basil leaves, no stems

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/3 cups pignoli (pine) nuts

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup Grapeseed Oil

Parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Bring salted water to a boil then add pasta. For dried pasta, cooking approximately 11 minutes and for fresh pasta, cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Drain pasta in colander, reserving a half cup of the cooking water for the pesto sauce.
  3. While pasta is cooking, blanch string beans for about 3 minutes until crisp/tender. Then shock in an ice bath to keep the green color vibrant.
  4. With quartered potatoes, blanch until the tip of the knife goes into the tip of the potato. Do not overcook and put into an ice bath to stop cooking.
  5. Start making the pesto sauce by chopping garlic in food processor. Then add basil,pignolinuts and salt until finely chopped. NOTE: If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender, or do it by hand using a sharp knife or mezzaluna.
    6. With the food processor running, add the oils in a slow steady stream through the feed tube until the mixture is thoroughly blended .
    7. Transfer to container and fold in the Parmesan cheese and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.
  6. Put pesto in sauté pan on medium heat with a splash of pasta water. The starch in the pasta water makes the sauce silky and is binding.
  7. Add cooked pasta to sauté pan with pesto and mix.
  8. Add cooked potatoes and string beans to sauté pan and combine.
  9. Plate and sprinkle with fresh parmesan.