Sicilian Pesto Penne
The Sicilian Pine Nuts used to make this pesto paste are untoasted, and lend a smooth, buttery texture to the dish. They also lend a rich flavour to the pesto sauce, so you won’t notice there’s no Parmesan. There’s just no need for cheese! Vegans, vegetarians and all alike can enjoy these classic Mediterranean flavours.
This recipe makes enough for around 2 people as a main course or 4 as a side dish. We used Biona Bronze Extruded Wholewheat Penne, but if you’re avoiding gluten, try using Biona Brown Rice Penne instead.
85g Sicilian pine nuts (50g for pesto; 35g to garnish)
250g (uncooked weight) Penne
2 tbsp olive oil
A few splashes of lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 large basil plant
A small handful of fresh cherry tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt
1) Fill a saucepan half to three quarters full with boiling water. Add the pasta and stir. Bring to a simmer.
2) Using a small food processor/blender/coffee grinder or pestle & mortar, crush 50g of the raw, untoasted pine nuts.
3) Add the basil leaves, garlic, a little of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Continue mixing until you have a paste.
4) Check the pasta. Then chop the tomatoes into halves or smallish pieces.
5) Add some lemon juice to the pesto. This will help to preserve the colour of the pesto as well as enhance the flavour. Taste the pesto and season further if you wish.
6) The pasta should be nearly ready by now. Check the texture is to your liking by removing a piece. Drain, then place the pasta in a large mixing bowl.
7) Using a nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet, gentle toast the remaining 50g of pine nuts.
8) Add the pesto to the penne and stir through until all the pasta is well coated. Transfer into a serving dish if you wish.
9) Sprinkle some of the toasted pine nuts into the pasta and stir in, then use the rest to garnish. Add the tomatoes in the same way. Top off with a few sprigs of basil and serve warm.