An Ode to Italy


I love Italy.

I have holidayed there four times, and find myself missing the place, as if it was my home.

cooking school 2010

During one vacation, I stayed in a luxurious 14th Century castle on a large Tuscan estate, with vineyard and olives, in Lastra. It was here that I attended a magnificent live-in cooking school called Tastes of Tuscany.  This recipe is reminiscent of my stay in Tuscany during this vacation in January 2010.

An ode to Italy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Vegan Pesto:

Process the first 4 ingredients, or use a mortar and pestle for a more traditional pesto, and then slowly add the oil in a steady stream:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bunch basil
  • ½ cup cashews
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • ½ pack gluten-free penne pasta
  • ½ leftover roast chicken, shredded (omit for Vegan option)
  • Handful leftover roasted potatoes
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • ½ bunch English spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen broad beans, shelled
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying


  • Bring a large pot filled with salted water to the boil. Add pasta and follow cooking directions (mine took 10 minutes for al dente).
  • Heat a frypan, and sauté zucchini until browned. Add chicken to frypan and stir until heated through.  Remove frypan from heat.
  • When pasta is half-way cooked, add potatoes to the cooking water.
  • When pasta is 2 minutes away from being ready, add broad beans to the cooking water.
  • Before straining the pasta, save a mug full of the cooking water (‘la goccia’). Add the English spinach to the pot, then drain combined pasta, potatoes, beans and spinach immediately.
  • Add pasta mix to the frypan; pour in the pesto and la goccia. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

For the dairy lovers in the house, add generous lashings of parmesan cheese.

Any leftovers make a great cold chicken pesto pasta salad for lunch the next day.

About psyched4success

"Psyched4Success" encapsulates the 4 foundations for Successful living: Heart - Emotions and Relationships Mind - Psychology and Thinking Body - Physical Health, Movement and Nutrition Spirit - Personal Essence, Values, Goals and Motivation I am a Psychologist with a passion for Holistic Health and Wellness, determined to inspire personal transformation in these foundational areas for success. When i am not working as a Psychologist, Corporate Trainer, and University Tutor, i love spending countless hours in the kitchen creating nutritious organic meals, inspired by a whole foods philosophy, free of gluten, sugar and dairy. I intend to share my creations with you here, as well as my journey from adrenal fatigue to health through my own personal, health, nutrition and lifestyle transformations. I am based in Sydney, Australia, but am an intrepid soul who sets an intention to visit a new destination each year.
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4 Responses to An Ode to Italy

  1. Casey says:

    I’d love to go to Italy! Maybe this will keep me happy until that day 🙂

  2. perthians says:

    We cannot wait to get back to Italy. Next time we want to hire a car so we can explore Tuscany thoroughly ☺ hope you get back there soon too !

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