Holidays are over… it’s the “rentrée” – aka back to work/school for 2015-16. This new year will be huge for us: new jobs, new apartment… (both of which need to be found!). A new year, a new start, a new life. Kind of…
After a week spent in the Liguria region of Italy, the next few posts will be completely inspired by Ligurian cuisine. So many delicious dishes come from there!! Pesto, farinata (chickpea ‘flatbread’), foccacia, Riomaggiore cake (a type of lemon custard shortbread cake) and of course, copious amounts of seafood. It was heaven on earth! As usual, I pre-planned my packing for the holiday, knowing I’d want to buy local produce to take back home… 10kg of pasta, cheeses, anchovies, olive oil… all successfully hidden from Mishka during the drive back home, as well as some sneaky farinata and foccacia to have for lunch on the way back!
One of the most simple and flavourful dishes from Liguria is pasta with pesto. Traditional “trofie” shaped pasta is used (twisted little macaroni-like pasta). The shape of the trofie is so twisty that it catches the pesto like no other! The trofie is frequently served with green beans and potatoes – a simple but amazing meal. The pesto from the Ligurian region is not like any other I’ve tasted. They use half pecorino (a hard sheep’s milk cheese) and half parmesan along with the usual pesto ingredients, so the flavour is much more complex than an ordinary parmesan only pesto. Another little tip I picked up here, after marvelling at how the plain pasta had a far more complex flavour than any other, was that the addition of a few vegetables (or vegetable scraps) to the boiling pasta water adds a hint of flavour. Subtle, but so good.
Here’s my version of the Ligurian trofie with pesto; in addition to the green beans and potatoes, I’ve also added some fresh rocket and zucchini for added flavour and texture (and to up the veggie intake of course!).
Ligurian-style pesto with trofie, green beans, baby potatoes, zucchini & rocket
2C fresh basil leaves packed (don’t be stingy)
1/3C pecorini cheese, grated
1/4C parmesan cheese, grated
1/4C extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4C +1TB pinenuts
pinch of fine grain sea salt
500g fresh trofie (or other short pasta)
1 large zucchini, cut into batons
2 handfuls green beans
8 baby potatoes, scrubbed
4 handfuls rocket
4TB pesto (less/more to taste)
3TB saltTo serve
extra virgin olive oil
grated cheese (parmesan or pecorino)
1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and wizz until smooth. Taste and adjust for salt.
2. Keep pesto in a sterilised jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks
1. Bring a large stock-pot 3/4 filled with water to the boil. Once boiling, add 3TB salt.
2. Add potatoes to the boiling water. Boil for about 10mins then add the pasta (depending on the size of your potato, you want to time it such that it will be ready when the pasta is ready: eg. if your pasta takes 10mins to cook, add it for the last 10mins of your potatoes).
3. When the pasta needs another 4mins, add the zucchini and green beans (if you prefer your green veggies less ‘al dente’, add them earlier).
4. Drain the pot well (you don’t want any water stealing the pesto’s show…) and return the pasta back to the pot (but off the heat).
5. Add rocket and pesto and mix until everything is well coated. Taste and add more pesto if desired.
6. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated pecorino/parmesan.