Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 21, 2006: Walnut Pesto Pasta

The recipe is another result from our typical weekday search for a recipe that'll give us both dinner and easily-packed leftovers for lunch. It's called Ziti with Walnut Pesto, Zucchini, and Red Pepper, from Ken Charney's Bold Vegetarian Chef cookbook. Michael bought a little more than the required walnuts for the pesto, so I made extra and we tested it out on crackers while we cooked the pasta: it was a little too sweet for me and the raw garlic was really intense. I'd reduce the maple syrup and roast the garlic if I made this again just for snacking. I used the pasta I bought from Mediterranean Wholesalers a while ago instead of the prescribed ziti, but otherwise stuck faithfully to Charney's recipe. In this context the sweetness and garlic of the pesto became more subtle, creating a light but creamy coating on the pasta. The zucchini and red capsicum were just the right vegetable choices, and in the future I reckon I'll reduce the quantity of pasta and up the veges a lot. We split this into a dinner and two lunches each and I thoroughly enjoyed it fresh, re-heated and at room temperature, making it the ideal weeknight meal!

Walnut pesto
(from the Bold Vegetarian Chef by Ken Charney)

In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup (75g) of walnut pieces, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Walnut pesto pasta

(also from the Bold Vegetarian Chef by Ken Charney)

500g pasta
1/2 cup (60g) pine nuts
1 large red capsicum, cut into strips
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup walnut pesto (recipe above)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves, to garnish
grated parmesan cheese, to garnish

Bring 4L of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and stir often. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes (or according to the recommended time on the packet) and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a frypan until lightly browned. Set aside and use the frypan to cook the red capsicum in the olive oil. When the capsicum is soft and starting to blacken around the edges add the zucchini and cook for a further couple of minutes until the zucchini is tender.

Transfer the veges to the pasta saucepan. Boil the stock in the frypan until it has reduced in volume by half. Stir in the pesto and cook for another minute. Mix together the pasta, veges, chickpeas and pine nuts in the pasta saucepan and fold through the sauce and lemon juice. Season to taste and serve garnished with the basil leaves and parmesan.

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