Penne pesto

For a spicy alternative, rocket leaves can be added to the basil and pounded together or you could try a parsley combination… cooked chickpeas can be used in place of pine nuts in case of nut allergy, and gluten free pasta works fantastically!

Fresh from the garden: basil, garlic
Recipe source: pesto adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters in The Art of Simple Food
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes


  • Large saucepan or stockpot
  • Mixing bowls – 4 mixed sizes
  • Scales
  • Salad spinner
  • Cheese grater
  • Medium frying pan
  • Mortar & pestle
  • Tea towel
  • Measuring jug
  • Spatula
  • Tablespoon
  • Serving bowls

  • 250g dried penne
  • 1 big bunch basil, to yield about 100g
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Salt
  • 80g pine nuts
  • 50g parmesan cheese – grana padano or parmigiano
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil


What to do:

  • Fill the large saucepan or stockpot with water and set it to boil.
  • Weigh the pasta and add it to the pot when boiling with a tablespoon of salt – cook for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pick the basil leaves from the stalks and weigh before you wash them! Then wash in several changes of water and thoroughly spin-dry the basil.
  • Heat the frying pan on a medium heat and lightly dry-toast the pine nuts, shaking regularly so that they don’t stick.
  • Peel the garlic clove and place in the mortar and pestle with a good pinch of salt. Pound these to a paste.
  • Grate the parmesan cheese.
  • Add the pine nuts to the mortar & pestle and continue to pound. Once smooth-ish, transfer to the bowl and stir in the parmesan.
  • Tear the basil leaves and put them into the mortar with a sprinkle of flaked salt. Pound the leaves to a paste. Return the pine nut mixture to the mortar and, pounding it all together, gradually pour in all the olive oil.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, then using the spatula, scrape out the pesto into a clean big mixing bowl.
  • When the pasta is cooked, scoop out into the pesto bowl with a small amount of cooking water to moisten. Divide among bowls and serve!

Notes: With what else can you use pesto? What also goes with well with basil? Why do we toast the pine nuts? Can you name any other pasta sauces?

Categories: Kitchen Garden, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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