Pesto – a student staple! But it doesn’t have to be a cheap and oily jarred version. Try this homemade pesto with kale and walnuts … stir through linguine and top with smoky roasted tomatoes and salty prosciutto for a quick and wholesome mid-week meal.
I’m sure that any of you who have lived away from home as students made yourself some ‘interesting’ dishes when you first started cooking for yourselves.
I certainly did! Let’s just say they mostly consisted of bland concoctions involving things like cheap packets of pasta and tins of tomatoes and tuna … and not much else! (And don’t worry, I won’t tell you the story of the maggots my housemates and I found in the bottom of the bin when we returned from our Christmas holidays. Or at least I won’t dwell on it too much. Let’s just say they got boiling water poured all over them, but they stank out the house, so they then got thrown into the garden where they were promptly snowed on … leaving us a lovely reminder of our grubbiness when the snow melted!)
I know, I know, maggot stories are not very befitting of a food blog. I’m not making myself any new friends here.
So getting back to my point, then (yes, Helen, you’d better …), another of my go-to student recipes was pasta with pesto. Yup, the pre-made jarred variety – runny and made with cheap oil.
Basically, nothing like a good homemade pesto like the one in my recipe today. And not only is my pesto nice and chunky and homemade, but I’ve added the veggie-of-the-moment, kale, to make it super healthy and tasty. Throw in some basil, a handful of walnuts (cheaper than pinenuts), a big garlic clove, a good squeeze of lemon and a generous drizzle of olive oil, whizz it all up in a food processor and you’ve got a gorgeous pesto in seconds.
Nothing particularly unusual here. Maybe you’ve made pesto and pasta loads of times before. But have you ever added roasted tomatoes and crispy prosciutto? No, I didn’t think so. Well, trust me, these two humble additions take this classy linguine meal to a whole other level. The juicy, smoky tomatoes really tickle the tastebuds and go perfectly with the pesto, as do the crispy mouthfuls of salty prosciutto.
I think the key to making this quick pesto linguine great is to make sure the pesto is runny enough. When you whizz it up in the food processor, add enough water to make it the consistency of a thick-ish dip. Then when you stir the pesto through the hot cooked pasta, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the dish if you think it needs it.
I reckon this would work just as well with salmon or chicken instead of the prosciutto… or it could easily become a vegetarian meal if you skipped the meat and threw on more tomatoes.
- 100 grams/3.5 ounces kale, washed and with the tough stalks discarded
- smallish bunch of basil (at least 25 or so leaves)
- a good handful of walnuts (about ¼ cup)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 50 grams/1.75 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- a couple of good squeezes of lemon juice (add more to taste)
- about 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 140 grams/5 ounces cherry tomatoes on the vine (weight including the vine – or about 100 grams/3.5 ounces off the vine)
- 6 slices prosciutto
- 200 grams/7 ounces dried linguine pasta
- Preheat the oven to 180C/355F.
- Put a large pot of water on to boil, then blanch the kale for about a minute. Remove it with a slotted spoon (so that you can re-use the water for the pasta), transfer to a colander, rinse under a cold tap and then squeeze out most of the water.
- In a food processor, blitz the kale with the basil leaves, walnuts, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper until you have a chunky paste.
- Slowly add a little water (at least 2 tablespoons) and pulse until your pesto is the right consistency (about the same consistency as a dip).
- Spray a baking tray lightly with oil, then arrange the tomatoes on the vine on it with the slices of prosciutto (it doesn’t matter if the meat is overlapping slightly). Bake for about 10 minutes, turning the meat half way through the cooking time.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in the water that you blanched the kale in. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, then stir the pesto through the pasta. Loosen up the dish with a little of the cooking water.
- Serve the pasta out into bowls, topping with the tomatoes and prosciutto. Enjoy!
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