Bringing An Animated Italian Dish to Life

Thanks to Disney, I’m discovering the joys of Italian cooking with my family.

I recently wrote that T loves the movie Luca, a wonderful animated coming of age story about accepting what makes you unique.

The film is also a love story to Italian culture, from its beautiful seaside town setting to the delicious cuisine enjoyed by the characters.

One memorable scene is when the characters enjoy a traditional Northern Italy dish called trenette el pesto (pictured at top).

I enjoy Italian food but it’s not something I often make. Carbs are also counter productive towards my current “I want abs, dammit!” mission.

I recently discovered Instagram videos by The Pasta Queen. She is over the top but in a tongue-in-cheek way and her recipes are amazingly beginner friendly.

I came across her pesto pasta recipe and noted that it looks like the dish from Luca.

I thought about how much T loves Luca and what a picky eater he is. So I had to try making this, in the hopes of adding a new dish to his limited rotation.

BuzzFeed recently made the Luca recipe as provided by Disney’s marketing team.

I stuck with the Pasta Queen recipe, which has almost all of the ingredients for trenette el pesto: fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, pecorino Romano, parmegano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil.

The Disney recipe also includes green beans and potato. But whatever.

Just seeing the lovely ingredients together was so soothing to my soul. Cooking truly brings me comfort these days.

What was great about this dish is how easy it was to make. I guesstimated portions for each ingredient and tossed them in the food processor.

And voila! I made pesto. I never realized how easy it was!

The hubby teased me, as he always does, after I threw around, with extra enunciation, the fancy-sounding names of the ingredients.

“You know parmegano reggiano is just Parmesan cheese, right,” he said.

I gave him a silent glaring look that said, “Get out of my kitchen.”

I then placed the pesto atop freshly-boiled linguini. Then I applied an Italian cooking technique I recently learned.

Instead of throwing out the pasta water – from the pot the linguini cooked in – I kept a cup and poured it over the pesto and linguini.

The pasta water, pictured below, helped bind the pesto to the linguini. Who knew!?

And voila, here is the pretentiously-plated pesto pasta!

T was excited as I was making it, popping by every now and then to check on my progress.

When I presented him the final plate, he looked at it, smelled it and promptly said, “Yuck!”

Oh well, we tried! In all honesty, I was glad there was more for the hubby and I to enjoy!

This experience has unlocked a new interest in exploring traditional Italian cooking.

Like I do with everything else, I had used triple the amount of garlic required. And boy, did we feel it after!

As I was lying with T at bedtime, we snuggled closely as always. After I spoke, T told me in his usual frank way, “You need to brush your teeth, Papa. Your breath stinks!”

As they would say in Italy: That’s Amore!

25 thoughts on “Bringing An Animated Italian Dish to Life

  1. I love everything about this. We love Disney, we loved this movie and I love how you got creative in trying to add more foods to your kid’s palate.
    I can relate because I’m constantly trying to find ways to add to the short list Mr. L will eat too.
    Now I’m going to start paying more close attention to what the characters in his shows are eating. What a great idea!

    1. Thanks Rachel! It is a wonderful movie.

      I noticed in your latest post that Mr L is eating a plate of spaghetti in the restaurant. That is one of the handful of restaurant foods T will eat too.

    1. Jollibee spaghetti is so good. 😊 Canada’s very first Jollibee is actually just a five minute drive from our home. Three years since it’s opened, still a line up to get in!

  2. Wow this looks amazing. Great job on the presentation. I had no idea that you should keep some of the pasta water as it helps bind the pesto to the pasta. Thanks for the tip! That’s too bad that T wasn’t a fan. Oh well, more for you and the hubby to enjoy!!

    1. Thanks Linda! It was a lot of fun to make and to help demystify Italian cooking which always seemed so intimidating to me. 😊 There’s a lot T doesn’t eat, as you know, but slowly and surely, we’ll broaden his horizons! 🙏

      1. It’s funny how kids seem to be so fearless and bold, but not so much when it comes to food. But it’s good that you are trying new foods and hopefully over time that’ll rub off on T!

  3. Green beans and potato in pesto….what!!!! I am so glad you learned about using the pasta water. I never thought about making a post about that! Well it sure looks outstanding, a job well done. I had to laugh about your comment about T going yuck and it was more for you and hubby. Yesterday we had clam linguine as my daughter and the grandkids were here. I asked the grandkids if they liked clams and they said no (they have never had them). So it was chicken nuggets for them and leftovers for 2 days for me! 😂

    1. Thanks Diane! I think cuz I randomly watched one video, all the videos I get shown now on social media are Italian cooking videos. And it’s all about the pasta water. Haha. Who knew?! I bet you have a million and one tips to share too!

      Clam linguine sounds delicious! But I can see how it doesn’t sound all that appealing to the little ones. As you said, more for you! 😊👍

  4. The pasta water makes sense! Declan and I just made another paper mache head (Kermit the frog). The flour paste we make does wonders for the paper mache but is so difficult to clean the parts that drip. That flour water is such a binder! Although I never would have thought about it as a binder when cooking. Good to know! The dish looks amazing. Great job!

    1. Thanks Robyn! It’s a nice hack for sure, ditto the flour paste so thanks for sharing. Declan must be getting so excited with Halloween around the corner. I bet he’ll be making lots of paper mache heads for Halloween. Look forward to seeing what him and you are up to! 😊

  5. Oh, Parmesan cheese and parmegano reggiano are so different [apart from the appellation and the European Union of course].

    It would be like me confusing Emmental and some of the other French cheeses or the Swiss ones.

    [the first “cheesy” distinction I observe is hard and soft].

    [And, in the general ‘ground’ of cheeses, more alike than different – there are subtle subtle variations in each block or grate].

    Might share with you my favourite in which Parmesan cheese plays a co-starring role – green olives [stuffed] and Parmesan cheese in spoonfuls along with balsamic vinegar from Modena. It is good as an appetiser and you can have as much or as little as you like. *You are in control*.

    [which is to say – if you pour the cheese into the *sink* rather than onto the counter top or the bowl].

    And pesto really is easy when you have good herbs and spices happening. Three leaves of basil.

    Ah, yes, cooking by feel… [guesstimating].

    Fettucine is probably not my favourite pasta. Spaghetti bolognaise with mince and cheddar-type cheese and tomato sauce would be.

    Also I have enjoyed white sauces [bianco-type] and shapes.

    Garlic – as you have experienced, not everyone appreciates “the more the merrier” – even when it comes to sore throats and muscles.

    Pointing out someone’s breath has a flavour – Amore.

    [and tough love also].

    [thinking about inner voices and inner speech – when someone has YOU-the-pronoun all the time on the outside; it often gets into the inside. Though there is not a strict one-on-one correspondence].

    Cultural love stories: what about VIVO? That is very much a love story about Florida [the big challenge comes in the Everglades for me] and Cuba – and the coming together of a young lady who bounces to the beat of her own drum and a wonderful though endangered animal.

    Pasta water does do so many things!

    1. Pasta is such a staple over here but Willow won’t eat it so I rarely cook it, even though I love it. I’m not a fan of pesto because I don’t like Parmesan but I do find freshly made (anything) is better than shop bought. It’s wonderful that you cook from scratch, even if T won’t eat it, seeing you cook is a great example. X

      1. Thanks Juliette! For sure, cooking from scratch is healthier and also cheaper. Us and our picky eaters! What are we ever going to do? 😆 Pesto never really appealed to me either, to be honest, until this movie. I’m also now craving Italian-style fried calamari. Mmm. Ok, I need to stop now.

      2. Juliette:

        I didn’t used to like parmesan either.

        When I was a small person it came in these two round spheres which I thought was something to do with pizza.

        [or perhaps I confuse parmesan with mozzarella]

        So, yes, presentation does matter. So does texture, and so does taste.

        Pasta in my life was also a staple for athletes in particular because of health factors like the glycemic index and being able to metabolise it.

        [these were mostly athletes who walked; ran; jumped and threw things – as well they were in team sports where you needed two hours of endurance].

        The thing which provokes me when it comes to pesto would be the pine nuts.

        Pasta for one recipes!

        It would be so good to make noodles from the beginning / ab initio.

        Some pastas are more satisfying to make than others – for example – gnocchi.

    2. Thank you very much, Adelaide, for this thoughtful response! I am going to share it with the hubby and say, “Told ya!” 😆

      Your Modena recipe of stuffed green olives, Parmesan and balsamic sounds lovely. I’m not an olive person, to be honest, but it does sound lovely.

      Spaghetti bolognaise is delicious. It’s one of the few things T will eat too!

      I never apologize for my garlic passion. 🤣

      And thanks for the Vivo recommendation!

      1. Ab:

        I have a feeling Wikipedia might agree with Hubby.

        When I typed in “Parmesan cheese” the free encyclopaedia gave me the P-R treatment.

        Hope someone else who does go with olives appreciates it.

        Yay for unapologetic garilic.

        Red pesto is a good thing too.

        And when you said you craved fried calamari …

        Yours truly makes a reading of the Transparent Languages blogs – today I turned to German and found a word for someone who really hates people who drop crumbs [and loves being technically correct – the example used was colons and dashes].

        And fried calamari doesn’t have to mean DEEP-fried, does it?

        [my main exposure to calamari is at the fish and chip shop].

        As Sten explains:

        “Krümelkacker, Korinthenkacker… What odd words to describe such behavior. Where do these words come from?

        The word Korinthenkacker is from the 19th century. Korinthen (currants) are small, raisin-like dried fruits. Back then, one imagined that such petty people would have perfectly equally sized droppings when going to the bathroom, too. After all, if they would have different sizes, you can imagine, that would be quite the problem for such a person! Funny, but not very nice. I believe Krümelkacker has the same origin and connotation of this word, but Korinthenkacker is the original.”

      2. Thanks for the nice German languages trivia!

        Fried calarami can be pan fried but since it’s an indulgence for me, I crave and usually enjoy the deep fried variety. Tastes better. Probably not the healthiest option, oh well. 😆

  6. Wow, it looks delicious! My kids love that movie but I didn’t think about recreating that pasta – what a fabulous idea!

    I’m surprised you didn’t say to T “Silenzio, Bruno!” Which of course is not an example of quelling the inner voice but I bet would have made him laugh.

    1. I tell him “Silenzio” in English all the time. 😆 The recipe is very easy to make. If you add potato and green beans, it’s the authentic recipe from the movie. If you make it with your kids, please enjoy!

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