[About the New Years' resolution behind this]
Welcome to the first proper cooked meal, from a recipe book I haven't used, since the quake. I thought half-heartedly about sticking to my resolution, but really just wanted familiar comfort food whenever I had to cook a meal over the last few weeks. I feel more human now, and (more importantly!) want to get back into some kind of routine, so here I am again.
From Donna Hay's Pasta, Rice and Noodles, I made chunky pesto pasta. It's not a particularly unusual recipe to see around the place, but I couldn't resist the thought of those beautiful flavours, and went down to the supermarket hungry for the scent of basil. (Hmm. That last phrase sounds like it could be plucked straight out of Mills and Boon, if only the herb in question had a capital letter.)
You will need:
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 and a half cups basil leaves
400g / 14 oz penne pasta
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Place the pine nuts on a baking tray and roast for 3 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool. Place the pine nuts, garlic and oil in a food processor and process in short bursts until roughly chopped. Add the basil and process until just combined. Set the pesto aside.
Cook the pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl. Stir through the pesto, salt, pepper and parmesan.
It serves four. I served it with cherry tomatoes because they look pretty and they taste fantastic with it. (Do you like our classy-as flat crockery???) You may notice the pasta looks slightly weird. That is because we didn't have quite enough penne and so I bulked it up with lasagna pieces.
There are many things I like about this recipe.
- It's easy. Very, very quick. And yet the results do not correlate to the amount of effort put in.
- It's very tasty. Both flavoursome and fresh.
- It's deceptive. I don't know about you but I would normally look at a pasta dish with such a tiny amount of apparent colour or sauce, and I would think 'boring'. I would assume it would be very bland. However, the flavours seem to explode. It's like a secret weapon. This excites me!
On the other hand, it's EXPENSIVE.
I don't know about you, but paying $5 or $6 for a tiny bag of nuts does not seem normal to me. They are amazing superfood nuts, of course, and the result is beautiful, but that seems more pricey than petrol or printer toner (my default idea of expensive things). Then, you buy fresh basil, parmesan cheese and olive oil as well. Ouch. Still... for a once-in-a-long-while meal, it's worth it.