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Parsley “pesto” pasta & blogging about cooking

August 28, 2012

Pesto has been deliciously bastardised across the blogosphere, which is great news for anyone wanting to clear out the green things in their fridge and the nuts or seeds waiting patiently to be used (PS. store them in the fridge to extend their shelf life, so the oils don’t go rancid). The pesto in this pasta is a great reflection of how pesto has evolved, and I hope it isn’t an end point for you, but a spark for further experimentation – It’s simple parsley, a little sorrel (just because that’s what I had), macadamias, oil, pepper, miso paste (because I didn’t have parmesan but needed a bit of umami), and a touch of red onion (because I didn’t even have garlic). Can you tell I was already in my PJs for cooking really didn’t want to go to the store for the “right” ingredients? Once I had the pesto sorted, my attention turned to the need for a vegetable component. My fridge being devoid of all the usual suspects, I turned to the gai lan (or Chinese broccoli) that I always seem to have in my fridge these days. Why not? The result was a refreshingly grassy (and yes, I do mean that in a nice way) meal that screamed of spring-y flavours – my favourite bocconcini with it’s mild creamy flavour, crunchy and bittersweet gai lan, and moreish pesto.

Before sharing the “recipe” for this, I’d like to lift back the mental curtain on it and state plainly: this is really just a variation of a “guaranteed deliciousness formula” – a combination of ingredients that more or less always leads to a delicious meal.This one is pasta + cheese + veges, and as you can imagine, the possibilities are endless depending what you have at your disposal, what’s in season, or what you care to massage your tastebuds with. For something like this I don’t mean for you to follow my recipes to the letter – if you want that sort of thing, you’d be much better placed getting a cookbook. Recipes are great if you’re making something that requires precision (like much baking), when you have everything the recipe calls for – which is rare, unless you’re a chef or well organised. By posting the recipe to this pasta, I hope that you will open your fridge with renewed wonder rather than dread or guilt or frustration, and create some weird but wonderful recipe yourself from exercising your experience and experimentation. That’s how I prefer to approach cooking anyway.

Green “pesto” pasta

Serves 3-4 (3 large meals)

Parsley “Pesto”

  • generous handful of greens – I used parsley and sorrel, but any soft leafed herb or green will basically work. Although an all-mint, all-chive/spring onion or all-tarragon pesto might be a little overkill…use these as compliments/accents
  • a few Tbspns finely grated parmesan, or to keep it vegan, use about 3/4 Tbs miso paste*
  • either 1 clove finely chopped/minced garlic, 1 spring onion, or about 1/4c finely chopped red onion
  • handful nuts or seeds (anything except for peanuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts)
  • oil and salt to taste
  • optional: zest of 1 lemon (I didn’t bother, but a little lemon helps brighten things up nicely)

*It doesn’t make the pesto taste miso-y or parmesany, but it does add a nice background umami.

Blitz everything in a mini food processor or use an immersion blender (it’s a little more work to blend, but less effort to wash I feel). Thin out with more oil if too thick. If using extra virgin olive oil, stir through at the end to avoid your pesto going bitter.

Veges you could use

  • Broccoli, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, red onion wedges, peppers, pumpkin or sweet potato, carrots…the list goes on. Just cut into inch long segments, or chunks, and sear in a mix of olive oil and butter on medium high heat, covered, until cooked through. If you’re doing larger cubes (eg pumpkin) add a splash of water after the first side is seared and flip the pieces to finish cooking.

Protein you could use

  • torn bocconcini, feta, or any other salad-y cheese
  • cubed seared tofu
  • strips/chunks of seared meat or seafood

Pasta cooking notes

  • If you’re serving your pasta as a cold salad, once your pasta is cooked, drain out the hot water and immerse in cold water, then drain again (you can use all this water on your garden). Toss with all the other ingredients and serve. Otherwise just toss the hot cooked pasta with everything else.

Currently clickalicious

Figs in a blanket @ Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

Crispy roasted chili lime chickpeas @ Inspired Edibles

Beetroot baked with cream, balsamic vinegar and cumin with spaghetti, thyme and pinenuts @ Hungry & Frozen

Eggplant Jam @ David Lebovitz

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2012 1:02 am

    Great post Zo – exactly as cooking should be. These are my favourtie recipes of yours to be inspired by.

  2. August 29, 2012 1:33 am

    mmm that looks delicious! bocconcini sounds like the perfect addition

  3. August 29, 2012 10:13 am

    Woo hoo. We’re clickalicious! Happy Dance. Ahem, your pesto looks great. I don’t make mine the traditional way. I like using some arugula and never use nuts. Am I nuts? Well, yes, but it’s so good.

  4. August 30, 2012 10:25 am

    I think you don’t really start cooking until you learn how to substitute and cook “on the fly”. I’ve never been able to follow a recipe, which is why I’m so terrible at baking. My need to get creative usually ends up with fantastic meals but terrible cakes. Even when I’m following recipes I’ve written myself, I can’t help but change it up the second time around.

  5. Melissa permalink
    September 1, 2012 12:20 am

    This spring, I started making pesto with garlic scapes (my new favorite ingredient). I love making “non-traditional” substitutions in a recipe – some of the best meals I’ve made have been when I just want to use up odds and ends in the fridge! Loved this post. Thanks!!

  6. September 1, 2012 9:06 pm

    Reblogged this on They can't scare me, If I scare them first..

  7. September 2, 2012 11:52 pm

    CJ: Thanks! I should photograph more of my dinners, but not having a good lighting spot that I can always have prepared makes it a big pain :(

    LCB: Yep, it’s nice and mild so it lets all the other nutty flavours shine through!

    R: Buahaha, your pesto isn’t nutty at all ;)

    B: I’m very similar, although with baking it comes in waves…at the moment I’m not going through a good phase (being too adventurous) but then I’ll finally give up and want something to just turn out right and then I’ll start churning out some great stuff haha.

    M: Man I love garlic scapes too…they go well in pretty much anything savory!

    A: Cheers!

  8. September 3, 2012 4:05 am

    Excellent post and love the pasta! This is the way I cook and always encourage my students to cook. It brings creativity and flavor to the kitchen, not to mention helps use up the straggling produce and fresh herbs. Fabulous!

  9. peasepudding permalink
    September 11, 2012 10:21 pm

    Perfect, good reminder that you don’t have to stick to Basil for pesto. Hope all is well in Sydney?

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  1. Easy Peasy Pesto « The Hand That Rocks The Ladle

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