On the weekend I bought a big bunch of fresh mint from my local greengrocer for a Middle-Eastern dish. I was left thinking what to make with still a sizeable bunch left-over. Turn to Sicily!
In Sicily, unlike other parts of Italy, they have a special Eastern Influence on their flavours, because of the island’s special history, this has lead them to use mint as a herb, rather than just a garnish or for sweets. This has produced some real treasures like zogghiu, a minty & pistachio filled pesto. It would normally have some parsley too, but my version still produces a great, fresh & zingy sauce for pasta.
To make you’ll need:
- 200g dried penne (100g per person)
- Half a head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained
For the zogghiu (pesto):
- Bunch of fresh mint (cut the stalks off)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 4tbs rapeseed/ olive oil
- 1tbs pine nuts
- 1tbs pistachios (unsalted & shelled)
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1tbs white wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- Few mint leaves
- handful of pistachios
Start with the pesto, simply add the ingredients into a food processor and whizz up into a fragrant green paste. Before blending, keep a few mint leaves aside for garnish. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto. Then remove and scrape into a bowl.
Put a pot of salted water onto boil, as it gets up to speed, place in the broccoli. Poach until they’re tender, but still have a bright green colour. Remove with a scoop. Place the pasta in and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al-dente. In the last minute of cooking, add in the Borlotti beans. Strain and place back into the pan. Add the florets of broccoli and pour in 1/2 of the pesto. You can store the other half in the fridge or freezer for a future meal. Fold the minty sauce through the pasta and vegetables. Then scoop into bowls. Add a few mint leaves and a handful of pistachios as a garnish, a nod to whats in the very special pesto.