Italian Kitchen

Penne al Pesto

Italian cuisine has intrigued people from all walks of life and from all around the world. Considered the heart and soul of the Mediterranean the island of Sardegna is the most precious yet hidden treasure of that part of the world. Sardegna has unique foods like its unique people with influence from ancient Romans, to the Spanish and to the Moors.

Every Italian remembers the fond memories of Sunday family meals. As a child Lia Castagna-Munoz remembers waking up early in the morning to the scent of freshly baked bread.  Babbo (dad) would harvest vegetables and herbs before heading to the cellar to check on his barrels of wine.

Mamma (mom) was precise and particular about recipes and combinations of dishes with specific courses that she would prepare.

Fresh ingredients were purchased at the open-air market, all in preparation for the main meal of the day, pranzo (lunch). Also the heartiest and most important meal of the day, lunch is followed by the riposino (siesta) and is considered a form of family time. Food and family are the centerpiece of daily life in Italy and still today a meal is more of a social or family event.

Since her move to Las Cruces, New Mexico, Lia has been charming friends and family with her amazing ability to cook homemade authentic Italian food. Her energy, passion and warmth are embodied in every dish she prepares. Each dish is meticulously assembled using aromatic fresh herbs and vegetables from her own garden and the organic ingredients make her dishes a genuine culinary journey.
People often think that complication must accompany a big Italian meal, but simplicity also has its merits. “In reality Italian cooking is very simple. The main thing is focusing on the combination of foods and good quality ingredients,” claims Lia. This is a tactic that Lia, along with all other Italians, practice in the preparation of traditional recipes dating thousands of years old.

There is always something special about food that comes from our native kitchens and Lia hopes you will enjoy and incorporate the following dishes into your own family traditions.

Penne al Pesto


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 box penne (preferably De Cecco brand)
  • 2 cups of olive oil


  1. In a blender or food processor, combine and puree the basil, cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and crushed red chili pepper.

  2. Cook the penne “al dente” according to the directions on the package; drain.

  3. Transfer pasta to a serving dish and toss with the pesto sauce. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

Summer 2011
You are here: Home Food Latin Cuisine Italian Kitchen