Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fusili with walnut pesto

I've always loved pesto. My first taste of it was in Amsterdam (back in 1997!) where I was backpacking with 5 others, and we stayed at this B&B place. The owner 'kindly' offered 'homemade' dinner for us at a charge, and promised roast chicken. We think the roast chicken was bought from the supermarket. The rice he cooked was too wet and mushy, and he served the meal with pesto, and raw onions(?). But the pesto went really well with the hot steaming rice, and I've loved the taste since. However as some of you might know, bottled pesto is really pricey here, which is why I don't take it often. It is also pricey to make at home, considering that pine nuts and fresh basil leaves don't come cheap.

So I was glad to learn this walnut-based pesto recipe from a 'Healthy Cooking Class' conducted at my workplace sometime back. At least walnuts are cheaper. I tried the recipe out at home, with slight modifications.

Walnut Pesto (makes 2 cups)
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated*
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or more if you like
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Blend the walnuts, basil, cheese and garlic in a food processor, until finely chopped
  2. Pour in chicken stock, and olice oil and blend to a smooth consistency
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste
  4. Yields 2 cup portions. 1 cup is sufficient for 2 persons. Store** the other portion in the fridge for another day(to use within the week***)
* I used Cheddar as I couldn't get Parmesan cheese. (please do not substitute with mozarella !)
**When storing in a glass bottle for use on another day, top off the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to keep fresh
*** You can use Pesto over hot steaming rice - yummy !

Fusili Pasta with Walnut Pesto (2 servings)
  • Fusili (200g), boiled for 8 mins or till al dente
  • Thai baby asparagus (cut into sections, and blanched) (or broccoli, blanched first)
  • Chicken breast meat#
  • Plain Yogurt (1 cup) (optional but gives a yummier and creamier taste)
  1. Warm the pesto in a pan (no need to add oil)
  2. Add asparagus and pasta. Mix & combine well
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste
  4. Top off with chicken meat, and some grated cheese
# Season the meat with salt & pepper and cook till golden brown on a hot griddle or pan. When done, slice & set aside. Instead of chicken breast meat, I topped off my pasta with some roasted garlic teriyaki wings. A good delicious option would be roast chicken from the supermarket - just shred the meat and toss. 

Let's get started with toasted walnuts

Blending the pesto to a smooth paste
Homemade Pesto!
Ready to eat

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