David's Favorite Recipes

Norman’s Signature Pesto Sauce on Open Faced Lasagna



Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for only about 4 minutes until al dente.

Meanwhile, put the basil, Parmesan,  6 tablespoons of the cooled pine nuts, broth and garlic in a food processor fitted with a stainless steel blade. Pulse the machine until roughly chopped. Then scrape down the bowl and process continuously until smooth.

As soon as the pasta is ready, drain it reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. On a cutting board, cut the lasagna noodles into thirds. Arrange the lasagna opened faced on dinner plates adding a little additional cooking water if required. Then spoon on the pesto sauce, the remaining pine nuts and remaining Parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil.

Norman Kolpas, my business partner for 20 years with Wolfgang Puck, is one of the most prolific cookbook writers I know of. In addition to his own books, he was the editor or author behind many Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, and he also teaches a cookbook-writing workshop at UCLA. He is also a close friend, and I know from personal experience that both Norman and his wife Lynn Dubinsky are great cooks. The secret to Norman’s delicious basil pesto recipe is the addition of reduced chicken broth. We paired his pesto with open-faced lasagna noodles, a style of serving the sauce I learned of in a restaurant just outside of Portofino, Italy.


3 cups packed stemmed fresh basil leaves, plus 4 small sprigs fresh basil for garnish
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a 450°F oven until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (watch carefully to prevent burning)
1 cup The Essential Homemade Chicken Stock, or good-quality canned chicken stock or broth,
briskly simmered over medium-high heat until reduced to ½ cup
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) box dried lasagna noodles