Food: Easy broccoli & borlotti bean penne with my Zogghiu

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.

Serves 2

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

Garnish:

  • 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.

Enjoy!

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Food: Kale & walnut pesto

Here’s a fuss free recipe for a fresh pesto that’s incredibly flavoursome and an interesting twist on a traditional pesto.

I had some basil left in the fridge, so I added that, but it’s purely optional because the kale & walnut can stand on their own with out it. It’s easy to make a big batch up and freeze, so you constantly have a supply of tasty pesto, that’s also vegan friendly too, as an added bonus!

 

You’ll need:

  •  1/2 bag of kale (roughly 100g)
  • Handful of walnuts (roughly 20g), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 (heaped)tbs Nooch (Nutritional yeast)
  • 100ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Handful of basil, chopped (optional)

 

Start by blanching the kale, as it can be a bit tough on blenders. Keep your eye on it though, as it you want it still vibrant green and full of its nutrients. Once its done, drain and set aside. Place the walnuts into a pan on a medium heat and toast them until they release their nutty aroma and burnish. Another one to keep an eye on as they can scorch easily. Again, once done, set aside.

Here’s where the fun part comes in!

Traditionally, in Italy, they would use a pestle and mortar to make pesto, laboriously grinding the leaves and nuts, until they form into a tasty green sauce.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Yes, it would be idillic if we could, but in our time stressed lives, we need food that’s quick and easy to prepare! All of this hard work can be done in a jiffy with a food processor.

Plug it in, and start by adding the ingredients, minus the oil. Place the lid on and whizz until they form a green mixture. As it’s whizzing, trickle the oil bit by bit to the sauce. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto.

A couple more whizzes and your done!

Use like you would pre-made pesto, on pasta, as a marinade etc.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Creamy aubergine pesto pasta

I had an extra aubergine in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it – well this a perfect for a midweek evening meal!

Feeds 2/3

To make you’ll need:

For the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g nutritional yest, ground
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the dish:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tbs of the pesto
  • 180g dried tagliatelle
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • Handful of wild rocket
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Vegan cream cheese- I used Oatly
  • Splash of Non-dairy milk- I used Oatly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1tbs garlic infused oil

 

To start, all you have to do is blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the oil bit by bit until it’s a runny paste and then set aside. Next, add the nutritional yeast and season with salt & pepper then blend again. Done!

Prepare the aubergine by cutting it into coins and place them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and leave for 30 minutes until the juices have extracted. When this happens, pat them down with a wet cloth, sprinkle them with the rosemary and place on a chopping board. Chop the coins of aubergine into thick strips. Once this is done you can start cooking.

Set a shallow pan on a low heat with a glug of garlic oil. When the pan heats up, add in the aubergine and fry until it starts to soften. When this happens, squeeze the juice of half a lemon in and place the lid on for it to steam in the juices. Leave the lid on for a good 6-7 minutes or so. This is the time you can start the pasta. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted & oiled boiling water until sufficiently ‘al-dente’.

When you’re ready to take the lid off, the aubergine should be soft and the skin should have become a bright fuchsia. Now add in the pesto and allow it to cook down. Splash in some oat milk and a generous nob of cream cheese. Drain the pasta and stir through with a big handful of wild rocket. Make sure the sauce clings to everything – the heat of the dish will wake the rocket up. Heap into bowls and season with freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with a large, crisp glass of white.

Buon Appetito!

 

Food: Pancetta, mushroom & pesto pasta

Here’s a recipe perfect for a quick meal on a weeknight and it gives you a variation on the famous Italian pesto.

You’ll need:

for the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g Parmesan, grated
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • salt & pepper

 

For the meal:

  • A small pack of pancetta
  • 20g chestnut mushrooms
  • 200g penne pasta ( I usually work on 100g per person, so this serves 2)
  • Half a packet of Italian salad leaves/ wild rocket
  • salt & pepper

Before you start the meal I’d make the pesto, albeit not a traditional pesto, which includes pine nuts that can be expensive, any creamy nut will work and its fun to experiment with different leaves and nuts. To do this, all you have to do is use blender ( I use a stick blender) and  blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic until smooth, pouring in the oil little by little until its a runny paste. Next, add the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper and blend again. Keep aside. You can also freeze the pesto if you’ve made too much.

Next, Heat a shallow pan on low and fry the pancetta, until all of its smokey oil has been rendered. Now, add the mushrooms and fry them until soft. Whilst this is cooking you can boil the pasta in some salted water. When the mushrooms are done, add a big heaped spoonful (or two) of the pesto, to cook the raw garlic out. The pan by this point should be a vibrant green. Next, drain and add the pasta and stir. Then, add half a packet of Italian salad leaves and stir until the green oily sauce has covered everything. Serve and top with plenty of black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan. We served ours with some homemade garlic bread and a couple of crisp larger.

Buon Appetito!

Food: Today’s lunch

Had some broccoli that had past it’s best at the back of the fridge, so last night I decided to make a broccoli pesto.

I steamed the leftover broccoli (I used  roughly quarter of a head) until tender, then strained and placed into a bowl for blending. Then I ripped up 10g of basil, stems and all, and joined it with the broccoli. Whilst the broccoli is cooking  smash up 60g of cashew nuts in the pestle and mortar so it would be easier to blend them. Place them all in the bowl and pour in 2 tbs of good quality extra virgin olive oil, 20g of shredded parmesan cheese, the juice of half a lemon and a sprinkling of salt and pepper then blend them down until a smooth creamy mixture. It should keep in the fridge, in a jar for 4-6 days, more if topped with oil.

On to lunch. Today, I fancied something Italian and light for lunch, so with the fresh pesto in hand, I made Broccoli and basil pesto spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti as normal (I use Nigella’s rather poetic tip of making the water as salty as the Med!). Once drained, tip a spoonful of the pesto back into the pan and a squeeze of lemon juice to loosen it up and give it piquancy. Mix then serve, topped with shavings of salty Parmesan and couple of fresh basil leaves. It’s divine!

I served it today with some refreshing lemon water in my Iittala Sarjaton glasses.