Cabincorn's Calabrese Pesto

In celebration of Father's Day today, we're giving you a recipe fit for dad from Griffin Wilson, the man behind @cabincorn, our current instagram food account obsession. Fittingly, Griffin sent us this pesto recipe from the road (he's driving cross-country with his dad this very moment) and we're convinced that this delicious sauce could be whipped up for dad on the fly if you're still planning dinner. 

With just a few simple ingredients—a favorite dried pasta, a few cloves of garlic, some sun-dried tomatoes, chilies, pecorino and stale bread...—and a trusty mortar & pestle, you could be serving this to dad tonight!

P.S. If you're looking for culinary inspiration, follow @cabincorn

"I took a classic Italian recipe–Pesto Calabrese–and tweaked it. At first, the flavors that I wanted, and attempted to add up in my head, seemed unattainable. That perfect spicy, crunchy, unctuous mix between a sauce and a paste to dip, spread, toss, soak, or spoon, hadn’t landed on my plate.

"My interpretation of this quintessential Italian dish would delight anyone seeking a spicy and rich pasta sauce that packs a punch on many levels. Because I use ingredients typical of the Calabrian region (from which the original recipe hails) my reimagining of pesto Calabrese might even be enjoyed by the most discerning Italian chefs...

"This version of Pesto Calabrese is best when folded into any rough-edged pasta. But it could be spread on just about anything from grilled mushrooms to a crust of bread."

The ingredients are listed in order of addition to your mortar and pestle: 

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1 lemon

1 clove of garlic (I like to microplane it right into the mortar)

½ cup of grated pecorino 

4-5 Calabrian chilis (more or less depending on the desired spice level)

¼ cup of julienned sun dried tomato, soaked

1 tsp of garam or fish sauce

One thin, slightly over-toasted slice of stale bread

¼ cup of olive oil

"Begin by placing a large pinch of kosher salt into the mortar. Add the lemon zest and garlic. Bloom the lemon zest and garlic with a few grinds with the pestle. Add the pecorino. Loosen the dry mixture by adding the chilis, sun-dried tomato, and the fish sauce. Pulverize all of the ingredients into a rough paste. If a little olive oil is needed to bring everything together, a tablespoon or two can be added. Following that, roughly break apart the pieces of bread, charred bits and all, and grind them into a rich and bright red paste. If a sauce-like viscosity is desired, add a few tablespoons of the tomato soaking liquid. A squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, to round out all of the richness, may be in order."

About Griffin Wilson: 

Griffin lives in a cabin in the redwoods of Occidental, a tiny, no-stoplight town about an hour-and-a-half north of San Francisco. Calabrian food is one of his favorite cuisines to make at home. He moved here five years ago from Detroit and took his first job in California at a raw, small-scale, family-run, dairy farm. His second job was as a chef at a wine bar and restaurant in Sebastopol committed to sourcing sustainable food, work that coincided with his interest in regenerative farming and food systems. Griffin grew up working in food, learning how to take apart a sausage press and roll out pasta before he could legally drive. He attended culinary school and, from there, cooked at quaint breakfast cafes, a full-scale vegan restaurant, a cruise ship in Central America, and several agritourism sites in Northern Italy and Hawaii. For the last two years Griffin has taken himself out of the restaurant world and has found his niche in making cooking videos, teaching cooking classes, and catgering large weddings, corporate events, and intimate family dinners alike. 

Stay tuned for Griffin's upcoming events and in-person classes and via zoom at @cabincorn and