Friday 12 April 2013

Nutty Pesto Pasta (posh version, super posh version and student version)

I have decided to publish a recipe every now and again (I daren't pretend I will stick to some weekly routine) due to friends often asking for recipes after they come round for a meal - yurrer, yurrer, I hear you say, all 'cooks' who publish recipes state that they have been forced to do so by popular demand. Well in my case it's true! I never use recipes in the traditional sense (unless I am baking Mary), rather, I tend to read recipes and magpie bits of them and then make the rest up as I go along. I began experimenting with cooking (amongst other less healthy things) as a teenager and it (and I) grew from there. Our friend Roy, doodler extraordinaire and head honcho from bubble up tv round last Tuesday and asked for the recipe for Nutty Pesto Pasta - easier than pie - pasta is always easier than pie. Pie is not easy, never mind the saying. Here goes:

Posh version: Basically you need good quality pasta - I like the giant shells as when you lift one to your ear, you can hear Lake Como calling you - a jar of pesto and some cashews or hazels or almonds. Use about a jar per 500g of dry weight posh-looking pasta - crush the nuts and sprinkle over. Voila! The pesto idea belongs to the Italians, the pasta, the arguably the Chinese and the Italians too. Why not get some Italians and Chinese in a room with some Chianti and whatever Chinese booze and get them to argue the toss? There are three versions: posh, super posh and student, to suit all budgets!

- Boil the pasta until it is el dente (not 'all mental' students, this means cooked but with a little 'bite' in the middle). I don't know how long for, I never time things (unless I am baking Mary) follow the instructions on the back of the packet.
- Chuck the pesto in - all of it. Nothing worse than a mean coating - take note skinny chicks with no hips.
- Crush a couple of handfuls of nuts with a pestle and mortar if you have one, or put them in a tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin until they are partly crushed - not smashed to smithereens like Aunt Agatha's bowl was last Christmas, the demise of which you blamed on the dog.

Super posh version: Make your own pesto!
You will need an electric mixer for this one, plus fresh basil, pine nuts (or cashews)
- 2 good handfuls of basil leaves
- 2 handfuls of pine nuts - or nuts of your choice
- A teaspoon of crushed garlic - or less if you are not so into it/not into it
- Salt 'n pepper 
- A squeeze of lemon juice (put Squeeze on the cd player too - Cool for Cats is the business)
- 3/4 hearty slugs of good quality olive oil from the Tuscan hills (or wherever, Waitrose as we are super posh, will do)

Chuck it all in the blender or mini Kenwood or whatever Delia or Nigella are using and blend until it is smooth but still textured - not so textured as to be like the pebbledash that commoners are prone to coating their bungalows with, but not so smooth as to be like the wallpaper paste that the builders are using to wallpaper the drawing room in that peacock design.
Put several tablespoons of it on your posh pasta. Artfully place a few basil leaves on the top and hey pesto! Have Champagne or some kind or something not too Chablis that has undertones (another blinding band) of gooseberries like cousin Mildred. Students, you must content yourselves with leery undertones but the Undertones are for everyone!

Student version: It's Friday night, you will have the munchies for whatever reason. Divvy up what's left of your cash after you have visited the student bar. Snaffle some more from your drunk mates. Hit the 24 hour Tesco or Sainsbury's (not literally, try to walk straight). Grab a cheap own brand packet of pasta, ditto a jar of pesto, if you can stretch to it, buy some nuts - you may have to use unsalted peanuts - comfort yourself that now that you are at uni you will have a stab at earning more than peanuts depending on who gets in at the next election. Go straight home, follow instructions above. Try to keep it down, the noise too. Working folk are trying to sleep you know.

P.S Snack time tip! Buy a big bag of cashews and sautee (fry dear students) some in a pan with a slash (not that kind students) of oil and half a teaspoon of salt and pepper each and a good English summer drizzle of honey. Toss well to coat and slightly brown, then turn into a rustic terra cotta dish and serve when cool with beer or wine. You can do this to the nuts before you put them on the pesto if you can be bovvered.