Saturday, 18 September 2010

Chilli pesto and spaghetti



If somebody asked you to choose your favourite cuisine, could you do it?  I regularly change my mind between Italian, Thai and Spanish and from one day to the next I wouldn't have the same answer.  Then there's Dim Sum!  Show my somebody who doesn't love Chinese dumplings and I'll show you somebody who is dead inside.  Right now I'm on a bit of an Italian trip (I wish I really were) and am all about the pasta and fresh ingredients.  Also Giorgio Locatelli.  I'm developing what could only be referred to as obsession.

So I  thought I'd kick off my first recipe with what I'm having for lunch today:  Pesto.

Pesto isn't a difficult thing to master and there are many different recipes out there to try. The thing I love about it the most is how flexible you can be with the quantities and ingredients.  The pesto I regularly make combines basil with rocket for a really strong iron taste but today I fancy something a little punchier and have recklessly thrown chilli in there as well.  I think this works really nicely and it's perfect for a very quick, simple bowl of pasta and the only cooking you have to do is boil up a pan of water for your pasta.

Even the though the chilli adds a fair old kick I decided to round out the sharpness by adding half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and this adds a deeper smoky flavour that balances the raw garlic and lemon nicely.  Feel free to add more chilli if you prefer but I was wary of completely masking the flavour of the basil.

Yes, it's ridiculously easy, but this blogger is a girl who would happily eat a bowl of spaghetti coated with just chilli and garlic fried in olive oil and having just polished the lot off in about 10 mins I can honestly say that it is delicious.



  • 60g toasted pine nuts
  • 2 pots of basil
  • juice 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 dry red chillis
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove raw garlic
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste.
  1. Place the basil, pine nuts, cheese, chilli and garlic in a food processor and pulse until a paste is formed.  
  2. Gradually add glugs of olive oil until a looser consistency forms, I found that 100ml was sufficient but this will depend on the quantity of leaves used, so go by look and taste.
  3. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  4. Add to cooked pasta and stir to coat pasta with the lovely bright green sauce.

Bright sparkling pesto: add to pasta or use as a sauce for meat and fish.




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