For most people I know, pasta and pesto is a great store cupboard meal when you don’t feel like cooking. Boil some water, open a jar of pesto, mix the two together and dinner is ready.
The meal gets a brilliant upgrade if you make your own fresh pesto which, to be completely honest, gives you something to do while the pasta cooks! But, at the moment, I am being vegan for Lent so I was wondering, how good is pesto without parmesan?
The answer is; it depends on what else you add to the pesto. I made this one with basil, spinach and walnuts and gave it added zing with some lemon juice. It was scrummy. You might also want to consider adding a little nutritional yeast to boost the protein and vitamin B12 content of this meal. It also adds a faint “cheesiness” to the flavour.
Add some green veg to the pasta; peas or mange tout for example, and dinner is ready. I like to top mine with a few more nuts for added protein and a bit of crunch and some rocket or parsley for added “green”!
This is instinctive rather than precise cooking so add a little bit more of this or less of that as you see fit. Experiment with different herbs or nuts – wild garlic or rocket and pine nuts work well.
Makes enough for two
For the Pesto
A small handful of walnuts
A large handful of fresh Basil Leaves
A large handful of young Spinach Leaves
1 large Clove of Garlic
Juice of half a Lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)
Salt & Pepper
For the rest
150g Spaghetti (more if you are hungry)
A handful of Mange Tout and/or Peas
A handful of Parsley
5 or six Walnuts, broken into pieces.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet.
While it cooks place the garlic, walnuts and nutritional yeast (if you are using it) into a food processor and blitz. Add the basil and spinach and blitz again. Pour in the lemon juice and a generous glug of olive oil and blitz again. Add more olive oil if needed to get a thick but flowing consistency.
Two minutes before the pasta is cooked add the peas or mange tout. When everything is tender drain and return to the pan. Pour in the pesto, add a grinding of black pepper and toss. Plate up and top with the chopped parsley and walnut pieces.
Best enjoyed with a glass of wine and the company of someone who is interested in all the ups and downs of your day.