This recipe is courtesy of Bibby’s Kitchen, submitted as part of our recent #FaithfulFood Challenge.
Children are my other favourite people to talk to about food. Never subtle and always honest. Best food? Yip, it’s pasta! No complicated ragu-filled ravioli with burnt butter sage sauce here. Just straight up Italian style, like the basil pesto pasta. To keep it light and seasonal, we’re adding fresh garden peas, courgette spaghetti and roast cherry tomatoes. This is my go to candied tomato recipe, but fresh tomatoes will also do. This pasta dish lends itself to sneaking in loads of ‘invisible’ veggies that’ll see even fussy eaters lining up for seconds.
The secret to a great pesto pasta is obviously the pesto. This recipe is easy enough for kids to make and loaded with greens – baby spinach, rocket and heaps of basil. I’m mixing it up with pine nuts, walnuts and pumpkin seeds for maxed-out flavour and nutrient-dense value. Cooking from scratch with unrefined foods that are as close to nature as was originally intended, lessens the toxicity in our bodies and puts us on the path to good health. I make a huge batch of this super-green pesto and store it in the fridge for the best rye bread mozzarella cheese toasties or to rustle up a quick after school pasta lunch. In my kitchen, a good recipe is one that’s versatile and can be incorporated into a host of other dishes, as is the Italian way.
Serves 4–6 (4 more than generously)
FOR THE GREEN PESTO
80g organic baby spinach
80g organic basil leaves
40g organic rocket
1 garlic clove
Zest of half an organic lemon, plus juice of half
¼ cup Komati Pinenuts, toasted
¼ cup organic pumpkin seeds, toasted
3tbsp By Nature Raw Walnuts, toasted
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
120ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra to finish
Pinch of salt
Freshly cracked Good Life Organic Black Pepper
FOR THE SAVOURY GRANOLA TOPPING
A drop of Prince Albert Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup organic pumpkin seeds
¼ cup Komati Pine Nuts
¼ cup By Nature Raw Walnut Pieces
2 tablespoons By Nature Dried Olives, pulsed in a processor until fine crumbs
Good Life Organic Black Pepper
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
FOR THE CANDIED TOMATOES
500g Cherry tomatoes or mixed exotic tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
20ml balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon castor sugar
A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Several stems fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
FOR THE PASTA
400 g Naturata Spelt Spaghetti
3–4 (350g) Organic courgettes, spiral or grated
250g Cherry tomatoes, fresh or oven roasted
1 Cup green peas
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
TO MAKE THE PESTO
1. Starting with the pesto, place the spinach, basil, rocket and garlic in a large food processor.
2. Whizz together until fine. You can do this in batches if necessary.
3. Add the lemon zest, juice and all the nuts. Blitz briefly.
4. Add the parmesan and pulse to combine.
5. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
6. Give the pesto a final brief pulse to incorporate the oil. Store in a sterilised jar and keep refrigerated.
TO MAKE THE GRANOLA
1. To make the granola, heat the olive oil in pan and toast the seeds until golden.
2. Mix through the dried olive crumbs. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
3. When the granola is cool, add the parmesan and combine.
TO MAKE THE CANDIED TOMATOES
1. Preheat the oven to 190°Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray. Spread the tomatoes onto the sheet, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Scatter over the sugar, chilli, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss together and turn the tomatoes to face cut side up. Roast for 40-45 minutes or until the liquid is reduced.
TO MAKE THE PASTA
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.
2. Add the peas and courgetti to the pasta and cook for a further minute.
3. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining the pasta.
4. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot, add a ¾ cup of pesto to the pasta and about a ¾ cup of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce.
5. Then transfer to a serving platter. Top with the tomatoes and serve with savoury granola and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Thanks to Bibby’s Kitchen for participating in our #FaithfulFood Challenge and for providing this delicious recipe.