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