A quick dinner to make for a group of people and it’s vegetarian too! We learnt the benefits of adding chopped tomato to pasta just before you serve the dish in a cooking school in Tuscany. It adds a fresh lively flavour.
Serves 4 (recipe doubles easily)
400g spaghetti (fresh or dried)
For the Rocket Pesto
70g fresh Parmesan, cut into small chunks
20g pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic (no need to peel them)
10 basil leaves
200ml olive oil
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large tomato or 2 small ones, deseeded and chopped finely
1. Boil the spaghetti in lots of well-salted water according to the instructions on the pack (fresh pasta takes far less time than dried pasta).
2. Place the Parmesan in a food processor or bullet blender and blitz until it is the consistency of small breadcrumbs. Add the pine nuts and garlic and blitz. Add the rocket leaves and basil and blitz. Add half the olive oil and blitz again, adding more olive oil to get it the consistency you like. (We like this pesto chunky.) Use as much olive oil as you need. Add a pinch of salt and a good few grindings of black pepper to taste and blitz again. Spoon the pesto into a bowl or clean glass jam jar (this makes about enough to fill one empty jam jar). You only need to use a few tablespoons of pesto for this recipe – just enough to coat the cooked pasta – so when you’ve finished, pour a little more olive oil on top of the pesto to seal it and cover it with cling film. Store in the fridge.
3. When the pasta is ready, drain it reserving a few spoons of the starchy cooking water. Toss with a few spoons of the pesto adding just enough of the pasta water to make a sauce. Toss through the tomato. Serve immediately.
Use baby spinach instead of rocket. Use 5 mint leaves instead of the basil.
Photographs copyright foodpixies.com