Have you perhaps grown tired of the typical green basil pesto? In that case this recipe, Sicilian pesto, is ideal for you. Ingredients that are typical for this region are used: fresh and ripe red tomatoes, ricotta, pine nuts and of course basil. When put together, these ingredients create a paste that is at the same time light, fresh and nourishing. There is a myriad of regional recipes, and some of them call for almonds or dry tomatoes, or even pistachios, but the common denominator remains ricotta. This recipe is especially good on a hot summer’s day, but it can be had all year round. Prepare long and dry pasta, like spaghetti, casareccia or penne, with it for the best results. The leftovers can be had the next day as a spread over bread.
ca. 20 leaves fresh basil
250 gr/ 9 oz tomatoes
25 gr/ 1 oz pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
50 gr/ 1 2/3 freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano
75 gr/ 2 2/3 ricotta
salt and pepper to taste
75 ml/ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
dry pasta of your choice
Rinse and dry the basil leaves. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in two. Remove the inner part including the seeds and all excess liquid with a spoon. Put the tomatoes in a blender and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, ricotta and the grated parmigiano and continue the process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the oil and check the taste and consistency.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta by cooking it in salted boiling water until al dente. Combine with the pesto and serve immediately.
Mint pesto is a vibrant alternative to the traditional basil sauce. This fresh herb puree goes well together with lamb, chicken and pasta, but it is especially delicious with fish. Because pesto is not cooked but raw, it is essentially important to use the best available ingredients. Splurge on a good Italian extra virgin olive oil, and you will never regret the purchase. Even though a single sprig of mint has a very intense flavor, when you grind several leaves with other ingredients, the end result is a light and delicious pesto sauce. The first mention of recipe for modern pesto is from the book La Cuciniera Genovese written in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto. But pesto is way older than that – the ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, which was made by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together. Nowadays there are several variations available, next to the traditional basil based variety pesto can be made with parsley, rocket, and even sun-dried tomato and red bell pepper.
2 fresh tuna fillets
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
20 mint leaves
2 dl/ 2/3 cup olive oil
20 gr/ 2/3 oz pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
Marinade: Mix the olive oil with the garlic, salt and pepper, finely chopped chives and the lemon juice. Let the tuna steaks marinade in the mixture for ca. 30 minutes. Do not exceed the marinating time, because the lemon might overcook the tuna.
Mint pesto: Meanwhile, prepare the mint pesto by first washing and drying the mint leaves, then mixing all the pesto ingredients in a blender. Add the oil gradually so that the consistency remains creamy.
Tuna fillets: Remove the tuna from the marinade and gently remove any excess marinade on the tuna fillets. Fry the tuna steaks for 3 minutes on each side. Ideally, the meat is still pink in the middle after frying. Cut the tuna steaks into 2 cm/ 2/3 inch thick slices. Arrange them on a serving plate and drizzle some mint pesto on each tuna slice. As a side dish, serve a refreshing salad with lettuce or rocket and tomatoes.
Sometimes it’s good to get creative! This refreshingly different pasta recipe features a new vegetable, broccolini, which is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan a.k.a. Chinese broccoli. It is similar to broccoli although it has smaller florets and long, thin stalks. The taste of this newcomer – developed in Japan in 1993 – is similar to broccoli and asparagus. And you definitely can’t complain about its nutritional values, because it is high in vitamin C and also contains vitamin A, calcium, folate, and iron. The second creative aspect of this dish is the recipe for the pesto. This Ligurian delight is traditionally made with basil, garlic, pine nuts with olive oil and Parmigiano. This time around the basil gets replaced with the strong taste of the rocket. At the end you will have a pasta plate that awakens your palate to a whole new world of endless possibilities.
40 gr/ 1 2/3 oz rocket
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
50 gr/ 1 2/3 oz Parmigiano, freshly grated
2-3 tbsp pine nuts
130 gr/ 4.5 oz pancetta, in cubes (optional)
400 gr/ 14 oz broccolini
black pepper to taste
Pesto di rucola: Mix the rocket, garlic, Parmigiano, the pine nuts and olive oil in a blender. If needed, add salt. The end result should be creamy and smooth. The pesto can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
The pasta: Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the pancetta cubes and fry them over a low heat. Add the rinsed broccolini and continue frying for ca. 4-6 minutes until the broccolini has softened a bit. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Mix the pesto with the pasta, and arrange the pancetta cubes and the broccolini on them. Sprinkle some black pepper and serve immediately.