I love pesto and making my own sauce every now and then. Pesto is a thick uncooked sauce, traditionally made with basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Olive oil is incorporated while you process the ingredients to thicken the sauce and make it creamy. Pesto is usually served with pasta but I like it as a bread spread as well with some roasted capsicums, eggplants and artichokes. These days, pesto can be made with other herbs and vegetables and is as delicious as the traditional basil-based pesto. I like making mine with rocket leaves (arugula), walnut and Parmesan cheese.
No rocket science needed to whip up this delicious sauce. All you need is a food processor or blender and the following ingredients.
1 cup firmly packed rocket leaves (about 70 g)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Blend or process rocket leaves, walnuts, cheese and lemon juice until combined.
While the motor is operating, gradually add olive oil in thin steady stream until pesto thickens slightly.
This recipe will make a heap cup of pesto sauce. A few tips: You can use pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan. You can add more olive oil to get the consistency you like. I like my pesto not overly processed but a bit on the chunky side.
Now, what to do with the pesto? I use a third of it as a rub to spice up a poussin (also called baby chicken, spring chicken or spatchcock depending on which continent you live). The remaining pesto, I use to make a beautiful risoni (pasta shaped like flat rice)salad to serve with the roast poussin.
- rocket and walnut pesto (recipe above)
- 1 x 500g poussin
- 1 medium lemons, quartered
- For the risoni salad
- 1cup risoni, cooked according to packet instruction
- 6 slices of pancetta, chopped finely
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180C degrees.
- Wash poussin under cold water. Discard necks. Pat dry inside and out with paper towel. Loosen poussin skin. Rub a third of pesto between skin and flesh and over outside of poussin. Place lemon quarters in cavity of poussin.
- Place poussin on oiled rack over baking dish.
- Roast, uncovered for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, make risoni salad. Cook pancetta in a small heated frying pan, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Place pasta and pancetta in large bowl with nuts, herbs, oil and remaining pesto. Toss gently to combine.
- Remove poussin from baking dish. Discard pan juices.
- Halve poussin lengthways and serve with salad.