Summer Spaghettata “con pesto”

If it was up to my husband, we would have pasta every single day for lunch, and … he pretty much does… Spaghetti is his favorite kind of pasta. So this post is all about “spaghettata” an italian word that with the addition of a question mark (spaghettata?), simply stands for “shall we have a bite?”

On a hot summer day, nothing beats an easy recipe that does not make you slave over a hot stove. The perfect example is pesto, a fresh tasting summer staple that does not require any cooking (except of course for the spaghetti) and is always a crowd pleaser. But what if you are tired of the traditional* basil-pinenuts-parmigiano pesto?

*by the way, traditional pesto also has potatoes and string beans.

With a little imagination, a food processor and anything in your fridge/pantry, a nice twist on pesto is easy to achieve. To help you get the idea, here are a few of my latest “concoctions”.

Every recipe serves 4 and in every recipe, you will first put your large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil and when boiling, you will add a small fistful of rock sea salt or kosher salt. You will use 1 package of pasta of your choice, about 1 lb or 500 gr however the package comes in your country.

RADICCHIO PESTO

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1/2 a head of a round radicchio or a small long radicchio tardivo
4 tbsp raw almonds with skin
about a dozen basil leaves
zest of a lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

In a small food processor: add the roughly cut radicchio, the almonds and a pinch of salt, pulse a few times then add about 3-4 tbsp of olive oil. Pulse until well blended but still with a bit of texture.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook “al dente” and before it is ready:

Put the pesto in a large bowl and add a little cooking water from the pasta pot and mix.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add to your bowl, toss well.

Plate your pasta individually or in a nice serving bowl and top with freshly cut basil, the zest of one lemon and a little more olive oil to taste.

** A nice alternative with a peppery taste, is achieved using wild arugula instead of radicchio, in that case no need for basil but still add the lemon zest

PURPLE BASIL WITH RAW HAZELNUTS

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Similar to a traditional pesto, this purple basil is a bit more fragrant and perfectly blends with the earthiness of raw hazelnuts.

one cup o purple basil leaves
4 tbsp raw hazelnuts skin on
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Even easier than the previous one, throw all in the food processor and pulse (you can reserve a few nuts and basil leaves to decorate.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook “al dente” and before it is ready:

Put the pesto in a large bowl and add a little cooking water from the pasta pot and mix.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add to your bowl, toss well.

Add a little olive oil on top.

EASY PANTESCO

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1/3 cup basil leaves (plus a dozen leaves for decoration
1 tbsp of good capers in salt (salt removed by soaking in cold water for about 1 hour, rinsing and changing water a couple of times in between) + a tbsp for decoration
1/4 cup of pine nuts plus a tbsp for decoration
1/3 cup of cherry tomatoes  + 8 to 12 for decoration
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Keep your “decoration” goods aside

Cut the cherry tomatoes and remove the seeds with a teaspoon or pairing knife and add all the ingredients to your food processor. Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt (if your capers are still salty do not add salt). Blend until nicely incorporated.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook “al dente” and before it is ready:

Put the pesto in a large bowl and add a little (less than the others as the tomatoes have more water content) cooking water from the pasta pot and mix.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add to your bowl, toss well.

Plate individually or in a nice serving bow and add the decoration ingredients and a little olive oil on top.

CAPER PESTO WITH ROASTED RED PEPPERS

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2 tbsp of good capers in salt (salt removed by soaking in cold water for about 1 hour, rinsing and changing water a couple of times in between)
1 cup loosely packed Italian Parsley
2 medium/large sized red peppers
2-3 tbsp chopped roasted hazenluts
3-4 tbsp xvoo
salt to taste

This recipe will require you to roast the bell peppers in the broiler of your oven so do prepare this ahead of time, char them well and put in a paper bag or bowl covered until cool. Remove the skin and cut into rough pieces. (if you want cut a few nice thin slices for decoration as shown in my picture).

In your food processor add the capers, parsley, some olive oil and salt (if your capers are still salty do not add salt), blend until smooth.

Put the pesto in a large bowl and add a little cooking water from the pasta pot and mix.

Rinse your food processor and add the peppers, a pinch of salt, a bit more olive oil and a couple of tbsp of cooking water and blend until you have a nice smooth cream.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook “al dente” and when ready toss in the bowl with the caper pesto.

In individual plates, add the pepper cream to the plate, add the pasta on top and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts. Add the pepper slices if you made them and drizzle a bit of olive oil.

YOUR TURN!!! What is in your fridge? what is your favorite nut? Tell me about your pesto creations.

 

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