Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Green Pasta

I love pesto. Which is not surprising really, seeing as I love herbs and pesto is basically a herb sauce-thing with added pine nuts and cheese. What's not to love?

One day I will make my own pesto with my own herbs. For now I'm content with the Sacla variety (I really am a snob and am highly suspicious of Tesco's own brand), and to pesto lovers everywhere I present this recipe. I'm also going to add that when I came home in the Easter holidays I made it for my fussy sister and it's now one of her favourite things. Just saying.

For 2/3 people, you will need:
- a generous handful of pine nuts (depends how much you like them)
- a decent amount of french beans (ditto)
- 5/6 asparagus spears
- 1 large courgette
- Sacla 'classic basil' pesto. General rule = 1/4 of a jar per person.
- 75-100g tagliatelle per person
- parmesan, to serve (optional)

You can pretty much use any vegetables you like, so long as they're green. That's the rule. I don't usually bother with asparagus as it's so expensive and it's fine without it, but the last time I made this Jamie and I had gone to the street market in Staines and got two bunches of asparagus and 5 courgettes for £2.50. WIN.

1. Start by putting your pine nuts into a frying pan - no oil. Our uni hob takes forever to heat up and actually cook them so I tend to only start preparing vegetables once the nuts are already in, but if you have a gas hob (or a generally decent one) you should do the prep beforehand.

2. Wash and chop your beans (cut off the ends and then half) and do the same to the asparagus, only cut them into smaller bits and put the tips to one side. For the courgette, whap out your vegetable peeler and use it to make your courgette into courgette ribbons. This takes quite a while but is kind of fun and definitely worth it.

3. Once the pine nuts have begun to colour, add some olive oil to the pan and then toss in the beans and all but the tips of the asparagus. They take less time to cook, so they go in later on. Cook these for about 5 minutes, and then begin to add the courgette ribbons. The way I do this is to push the rest of the veg to the side and lay as many ribbons in the pan as I can fit in, like so:

Side note: Zosia and I found that if you let the ribbons cook for long enough they turn all crunchy and are awesome. Sadly they wouldn't really work crunchy here, but I recommend you try it some time all the same

4. Cook the ribbons for about a minute, then move them over to the side and add more. Make sure the pan has plenty of oil in, and that you keep moving around the veg that's being pushed to the side so it doesn't burn. Once about a third of the ribbons are in, add the asparagus tips. This is also usually a good time to put the pasta on, depending on how long yours takes to cook (the stuff I use says 7-9 minutes). If it's done too soon you can always put it aside and run it under the hot tap to warm it up!

5. Once all the ribbons are done, transfer the contents of the frying pan over to the saucepan you cooked the pasta in (once you've drained it, obviously) along with the pesto. Stir in. Dish up to fellow hungry students along with the parmesan. 

Side note #2: I know this is not tagliatelle. This is because I photographed Zosia's, and she has wheat free pasta and there was only penne. Sorry.
Done. I challenge you not to make 'mmmmmmm' sounds when you eat it.

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