This post is dedicated to my dear friend J who has been very ill for these last couple of months and she wanted me to make this pasta for her. Given that we don't exactly live in the same city, I thought why not just post the recipe here and let her know that I am thinking of her and ask you all to pray for her fast recovery as well... Thank you for that my lovely friends!
So about this pasta, it is ofcourse easy to make and ofcourse its pieno di flavour! Since its summer and we have plenty of luscious green basil available everywhere. I cannot get over the fresh green earthy minty flavour of the basil. Its just one of those things that give you so much pleasure.
When I usually get my basil from the vegetable vendor (never a supermarket), I come back with a bag full of it, sit in my car, lock the doors, bring the bag of lusciousness close to my face and inhale deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Have you ever tried that? Please do if you haven't! For those of you who have, you know what I'm talking about. It is one of my favourite aromas in the world. Gets my tummy rumbling!
So I have for you here, some Pesto Pasta. Easy peasy. Go ahead, give it a go.
Time Taken: 20 mins
500 gms spaghetti
1 cup black pitted and sliced olives
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Dry herbs (optional)
Lots of love
Bunch of fresh green basil
4 garlic cloves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts (use cashews or almonds instead, doesn't affect the flavour)
Tiny bit of salt
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to help emulsify
Fresh parmesan cheese (Optional)
To get started, first make the pesto. I usually have small jars of pesto which I freeze in summers so I can use them anytime I get a craving for deliciousness.
To make pesto, combine the ingredients in a blender and give it a good whiz. You can keep your pesto chunkier or smoother depending on how you like it.
(Handy hint: Toast your nuts before adding them to the blender. It will bring out their aroma as well as their oils)
I like to keep mine a little chunkier, which tastes better in pastas. Give it a taste. Feel free to add a little bit extra salt if you're not using parmesan or a few drops of lemon juice if you like your tangier. I also add some black pepper to mine for a little punch.
If you're wanting to freeze it, drizzle some olive oil on the top of the container to make a protective layering.
Also try and refrain from getting a bag of chips to dip in this pesto and finish it off before even making the pasta. Help me God!
(And now I apologise to you because my camera suddenly decided to act like a diva and give me trouble. So I don't have anymore 'In-process' pictures. I had to take the last picture with my mobile which is responsible for the bad image quality but I hope you get the idea of what to do.)
Now for the pasta, have your water on a rolling boil. Add salt to season the pasta. Drop in the spaghetti carefully in the pot. let it cook al dente while we make the 'sauce'.
In another pan add olive oil and the thinly sliced garlic to it on a medium flame. Add them both together to better infuse the flavour of garlic in the oil.
Saute till the edges of garlic become golden in colour. Now add the finely diced red bell pepper to it. Let it sizzle for a couple minutes. This will help release the sweetness of the bell pepper. You can use red peperoncino instead if you like your pasta spicier.
In case you're adding any dry herbs, now is the time.
Now add the sliced olives with 1 tbsp of brine. Saute for about 30-40 seconds. Time to add in your pesto. Add 4-5 heaping tbsp of pesto and combine everything together.
Before straining your pasta, save a cup of the starchy water to thin out the sauce if need be.
Mix everything well so the sauce coats the pasta evenly. Don't forget your sprinkling of love. If you find the pasta is too dry, add a couple spoonfuls of pasta water to it.
To serve, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil to complement the flavour of the pesto and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. Et voila! You're ready to dig in! Indulge!
I served mine with some pan seared herb chicken, sauteed beans and a lettuce cranberry salad.