Friday, May 04, 2007
Pasta with rocket pesto and ricotta fritta
A pesto is a fabulous sauce to have on hand at any time. It can be tossed through pasta, potatoes, salads, mixed into a cream sauce for meat and seafood, or literally drizzled over anything at all. Making pesto is so simple, and the ingredients required are few. Just be sure to follow the general guidelines below. Once you have tasted your own fresh pesto, you'd never go back to buying it off the shelves.
- Use a good handful of greens per batch of pesto. Basil, rocket, coriander and parsley are all widely used to make pesto, basil being the most traditional.
- Use a handful of freshly grated parmesan-type cheese (parmigianno reggiano, pecorino, grana padano, romano, etc). Never be tempted to use those longlife shelf versions, they just don't match up. Someone once compared their aroma to baby vommit.. I second that.
- Use half a clove of raw garlic (not half an entire head!). Just a little raw garlic goes a pretty long way.
- Throw in a couple of teaspoons of toasted pinenuts, macadamia nuts, almonds or hazlenuts. Pinenuts are the most commonly used. Add more if you prefer a chunkier pesto.
- Add one cup of good extra virgin olive oil. Make sure it is extra virgin, because you want that fruity flavour. Add more later, if necessary, to thin down the pesto.
- Whiz everything together in a blender, or you can opt for the more traditional method, via mortar and pestle. Do not overblend as the excess heat generated by the blades can 'kill' the wonderful aromas of the herbs. Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
-I like to add a little lemon juice to balance the oiliness of pesto. This citric acidity also adds a touch of 'zinginess'.
For dinner, I made up a batch of rocket pesto and tossed it through some hot pasta. Then I topped it off with some ricotta fritters that I picked up from Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie's Italy. For this recipe you need to use fresh, crumbly ricotta from the counter section of the supermart, or a deli. Creamy ricotta from plastic tubs will not work here.
Jamie Oliver's Ricotta Fritti
455 gm crumbly ricotta cheese
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
1.5 tbsp flour
1 large egg
salt and pepper
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Season well. Cook spoonfuls of batter in a hot, oiled pan on both sides till crispy, but moist on the inside. Eat immediately.
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