There’s something wonderful about Italian cuisine; simple, healthy and delicious. It’s a pity that many pasta dishes (I’m pointing to those served in small eateries and cafes) are being misrepresented. Often, they are bland and unexciting like frozen tv dinners and if you think about it, they can be pricey too!
To be clear, I’m neither a food snob nor believe in making everything from scratch and organic (though, that’d be nice). But when it comes to Italian food, I think we should at least try making our own pesto for it’s easy cooking process as compared to pasta & pizza dough making. Oh wait, the basic basil pesto doesn’t even require any cooking! Sure, you need to cook the pasta to toss with the pesto but it’s no harder than salad making right?
While basil pesto doesn’t need further introduction, I like to share with you my favourite pesto recipe to date – roast squash with coriander pesto. It is a concoction of two of my favourite ingredients – squash (of any kind) and coriander with a touch of the Middle East (because of cumin). So look no further, this is a recipe worthy to be a keeper!
Roast Squash With Coriander Pesto
(adapted from Jill Dupleix)
2 onion or butternut squash
2tbsp olive oil
4tbsp fresh coriander leaves
2 garlic cloves
2tbsp toasted pine nuts
1tsp cumin seeds
½tsp ground cumin
1tbsp lemon juice
150ml virgin olive oil
Extra coriander leaves
Extra toasted pine nuts
1. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
2. Scrub the squash but do not peel. Cut each squash into 6 or 8 thick half-moon wedges, coat in olive oil and place “sitting up” on an oiled baking tray. Bake for 40 to 50min until tender and lightly scorched on the tips.
3. Pound the coriander, garlic, toasted pine nuts, sea salt, cumin seeds, cumin, lemon juice and a little of the olive oil in a mortar with a pestle, or in a food processor, until you have a mushy paste, then slowly pour in the remaining olive oil, stirring well.
4. To serve, drizzle the squash with the pesto and scatter with the extra coriander leaves and pine nuts. To serve as a meall, toss in cooked pasta if you like.