Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pasta with Sicilian pesto and sundried tomato & pine nut salad

I BOUGHT A MAGIMIX! There, it's out. I'm so excited. All the whizzing.... pureeing... chopping... grating.... An endless world I am yet to explore. It has pride of place and is now taking up the majority of my very small kitchen, so I think we're going to have to get to know each other fairly quickly. 

We're still just at the beginning of our relationship though and haven't quite got to know each other well enough yet. Only holding hands at this point. However, I have opened my heart and my fridge and am willing to do what it takes to go all the way and actually understand how to get the most out of my new best friend (sorry all real friends who can't whizz/chop/grate my food, take a back seat).

As I'm sure most of you know, Jamie Oliver has some wonderful books which claim you can make these gorgeous meals in 30 or even a mere 15 minutes. My kitchen ends up looking like my fridge sneezed on most normal cooking days so when I have actually timed myself and attempted these feats, the mess doesn't even bear thinking about. However, I never had a magimix so I've had to use brute force and incredible chopping patience to get desired results. Of course I had to use my brand new giant whizzer and picked a recipe of Jamie's 30 Minute Meals that I've been longing to make fore a while (but just couldn't stand the thought of 7 hours with a pestle and mortar).

This beautiful pasta sauce is a Sicilian pesto, or Trapani-style as Jamie Oliver refers to it, made with almonds and cherry tomatoes and is totally and utterly gorgeous. I had to refrain from eating straight out of the bowl on this one. I chose a salad that was easy to whip up along side the pasta but that complimented it with some zingy flavours and the deeply rich sundried tomatoes. This, for me, is just a perfect summer meal. What a Nigella thing to say.

Pasta with Sicilian pesto & sundried tomato and pine nut salad 

*This is a gorgeous healthy summer recipe, the pasta is delicious warm or cool and would be great for a picnic or alongside a barbecue. If you're longing for gluten free, pick up some gluten free pasta and you've got yourself a delicious, healthy recipe combo that even your non-gluten free buddies (such as myself) will adore.

Quantities: Serves 4-6
Kitchen Stuff: food processor / hand whizzer / Strong arms
Timings: 30 mins (actually)

500g dried Rigatoni or giant penne rigate
40g parmesan

100g whole blanched almonds (I used flaked almonds for lack of blanched)
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 fresh red chilli's
2 bunches (50g) of fresh basil
4 anchovy fillets in oil
450g cherry tomatoes, red and yellow if possible
1 tsp capers (I add these, leave them out if you want to go pure Jamie Oliver)

100g pine nuts
5 sundried tomatoes, chopped
200g baby spinach leaves, cut into 1 inch strips (I used scissors)
1 medium cucumber
3 branches fresh mint, leaves picked & chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ Lemon


1.PASTA: Add your pasta to some salted boiling water, turn the heat up high, and cook until the pasta is al dente.

2. PASTA: WHIZ: Add the parmesan, 100g almonds, peeled cloves of garlic and 1 or 2 chillies (stalks removed), to your food processor and whiz it up until fine. If it starts to clump on the sides, push it back in with a spatula. It's no problem if it isn't super fine, I love the texture.

3: PASTA: MORE WHIZ: Whilst the food processor is running, add 1 ½ bunches of basil, 4 anchovies, 1 tsp capers and two thirds of the cherry tomatoes. Whiz until it's a paste, then add a glug or two of olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, pop it aside. Halve or quarter the rest of the cherry tomatoes, then put aside. 

4: SALAD: PINE NUTS & DRESSING: Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring, until lightly golden. Keep an eye out as they burn fast. Move the pine nuts to a large salad bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper, mix it up. Add the chopped spinach and mint leaves to the dressing bowl.

5: SALAD: TOMATOES & CUKE: Score the cucumber lengthways with a fork so you have deep ridges (they look pretty). Halve the cuke lengthways and slice each half into 1/2 - 1cm thick slices on a diagonal. Add the cucumber and chopped sundried tomatoes to the salad bowl and mix it all up with some salad servers. It’s ready.

*Make the salad just before the pasta is ready so it's as fresh as possible. If you aren't serving till later, then wait until you're just about to serve as the dressing will wilt the leaves a tad.

4. PASTA: MIX: When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it but keep half a cup of the pasta water aside. Return the pasta to the hot pan, add your freshly made amazing pesto alla Siciliana and stir it in to make sure all the pasta is coated. Add a splash of the pasta water to loosen if needs be.

Tip the pasta into a large serving bowl, give it a quick toss and scatter on the reserved cherry tomatoes and basil just before serving.


Recipe credit:  'Trapani style rigatoni' from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals and 'Pinenut, sun-dried tomato and cucumber salad' from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals.