Ohh I love spring and summer here in Scandinavia for the fresh veggies and greens that comes to the market! Back in India, the change in seasons hardly went noticed – except for very seasonal veggies and fruits like mangoes in summer, jackfruit in rainy season, avrekayi in winter and a few more, there is hardly any change in the availability of other veggies. However, here seasons are a big deal! Everything depends on the seasons and the same goes for the food that you cook due to the availability of ingredients. Of course you get most of the items as frozen these days, but we are more of fresh-food loving people!
So one of the things I look forward to in spring and summer is fresh basil! Oh how I have fallen in love with this herb! I love love it and so does D. So every time we see a bunch of fresh basil, we just greedily grab it! And most of the times it goes into a pesto and then to a pasta, though occasionally there are other experiments with it.
This is one of the pastas that we love – quick, flavorful, wholesome, as rich/dull as you want it, and versatile – do any changes you want and it tastes differently good! It is also good for lunch box (see notes below).
If you’re in a place where you can get fresh basil, don’t miss trying this! Here’s the recipe…
Pasta in Creamy Basil Pesto
Pasta - 200 gms, Penne or any other shape
Onions - 1 medium sized, chopped (optional)
Green chilies - 1, slit (optional – only if you want extra heat)
Olive oil – 2-3 tsp
Full Milk/Cream/Crème Fraiche – 1/2 cup, adjust according to the consistency needed
Cheese – Parmesan / Mozzarella – 3-4 Tbsp, shredded
For the Pesto:
Fresh basil leaves – 1 medium sized bunch
Walnuts or pine nuts – 1/2 cup
Garlic – 1-2 flakes
Olive oil - 1 Tbsp
Pepper powder - ½ - 1 tsp, adjust acc to taste
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste
• Pick and wash basil leaves.
• Optionally toast the walnuts / pine nuts slightly – it is ok to use raw too
• In a blender/mixie jar add the nuts, basil leaves and garlic and pulse till coarse
• Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and continue to pulse till almost smooth and scoop out into a bowl
• Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet, drain and let cool slightly
• Heat 1 Tsp of oil in a pan and sauté the onion with green chilly if using, till they are cooked but slightly crunchy.
• Add the pesto prepared above and bring to a gentle boil.
• Mix in the pasta, adjust salt and pepper
• Finally add the cream/milk to make it slightly saucy – or to the consistency you prefer.
• Garnish with shredded cheese and mix well
• Pasta can be just mixed with the pesto and served as is – But I prefer doing it his way and adding some cream so that it is more saucy and gets coated with the pesto well.
• Mixing it ahead of serving time makes the pasta dry. Mix just before serving.
• I make this for D’s lunch box also sometimes. I boil the pesto with cheese and cream and pack the cooked and completely cooled pasta and the pesto sauce separately. He heats it in a microwave and mixes just before eating.
•I also add some veggies like capsicum sometimes to make it healthier and to add a new dimension.