There are only a few things more joyous than watching a homegrown kitchen herb garden give a bountiful, fragrant harvest. Eating it is one of them – the caterpillars should now as for the last two of my three attempts at growing one they managed to get to my basil long before me…
This time I somehow managed to rid of them or simply they just got bored eating the same thing for weeks and left. Either way, as I was plucking the leaves off my beautiful plant I thought the best way to use them would be to have them fresh – unspoilt by cooking, with some gorgeous French walnut oil, in a pesto!
While the pasta can be enjoyed warm straight after cooking, it also makes for a lovely summer salad when chilled, making it a great candidate for a lunchbox.
Basil pesto pasta
Pesto [from scratch]
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino
- 1/4 cup walnut oil // or light olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper
Tip: Sundried or cherry tomatoes go just as well with this dish if you prefer a vegetarian version.
- 1 quantity pesto
- 60g penne pasta // or gluten free variety
- 100g baby spinach leaves
- 100g broccoli florettes
- 1 zucchini
- 1/4 barbecue chicken
- squeeze of lemon juice
To make pesto, place basil, crushed garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle or a small food processor and grind until it resembles a paste. Add pine nuts, crush then mix in with oil and grated cheese. Season with pepper to taste.
To make the pasta, boil penne according to packet instructions (generally drop pasta into a pot of salted boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process). In the meantime, pick meat off the quarter chicken and chop roughly, discard skin and bones. Slice zucchini and ‘chargrill’ lightly in a small frypan along with the broccoli.
Combine pesto, fresh baby spinach leaves, grilled zucchini and chicken with pasta and stir well to coat. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve warm or chilled as a salad.