Updated: I had, a couple of months back, embarked on a project whereby I was recreating some of the dishes I had posted during my earliest days as a blogger, with minor changes to the recipe and major ones to the pictures. In this endeavour, I had tossed up one of my favourite pasta dishes — one that is also healthy apart from being a delight to the tastebuds. The major change that I made from my previous recipe was use a different type of pasta (I had cooked it with Farfelle in my original post) and incorporate pinenuts in the recipe, the way a pesto should ideally be. The result? Fresher, bolder, punchier.
Original Post: It’s just the 20th of March and those who have endured the Calcutta Summer would understand (and shudder at the same time) when I say that Summer is here. It’s scorching and you can’t already step out of the house during the day. I mean really, where IS Spring?
The weather outside is screaming “Go Green”. I am not a green vegetables’ fan by any means. The only greens I eat and truly love are spinach, coriander and other leaves and herbs. You might remember that I had used a handful each of coriander and mint for this. The rest of the bunch were still lying in my fridge and I was tossing between Green chicken curry, grilled fish with green marinade and a host of other options. When this grand idea struck me.
I first had pesto some 4-5 years back at my sister and brother-in-law’s (who, from now on, will be referred to as Didi and Antar da and their obnoxiously cute little 3-year-old as Bobo/Boom or to be polite, Bihaan). I completely fell in love with pesto the first time I had it. Herby, cheesy, nutty, garlicky, pungent and all things good rolled in one. However I’ve never conceived of making pesto myself, mostly because I consider pine nuts to be a huge expenditure. Even though I spend a fortune at the supermarket everytime I visit, I’m not very regular with Mediterranean cooking, so buying a host of pine nuts makes little sense to me. Neither was I sure that those tiny jars containing just enough pesto to serve two people maximum that came for anything above Rs 350 would do justice to my cravings. But everything changed when a friend (and a cook par excellence) told me that I could substitute peanuts for pine nuts. And boy, wasn’t the result wonderful! I think all of you should try it once at least. It’s that perfect Summer meal that’ll soothe your senses and you don’t even need to turn the gas on for it (except for boiling the pasta ie)! And you can use the leftover pesto as a marinade for your fish/chicken, a dressing for your salad or even a base for your sandwich.
Pasta: 250 gm (your favourite kind, I used Fusilli)
Parmesan cheese, grated: For garnish
Pistachios, chopped finely: For garnish
Coriander leaves: 1 big bunch
Mint leaves: 1 medium bunch
Parmesan cheese, shredded: 1/2 cup
Cream cheese: 2 tbsp
Pine nuts: 3 tbsp
Pistachios: 3 tbsp
Lemon, zest and juice: 1
Garlic, minced: 2 tsp
Olive oil: 1/4 cup (or more)
Sea Salt, to taste
1. Cook the pasta in boiling water (1 litre for 100 gm) with a little salt according to packet instructions till al-dente. Drain and set aside. Reserve a cup of the pasta water.
2. In a blender, throw all the ingredients of the pesto and pulse till smooth. Use a couple of tbsp of pasta water (after the pasta is cooked) if you want to loosen the consistency.
3. Ladle the pesto on the pasta, toss well, sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped pistachios and devour! Yes, it’s over!
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