A mortar and pestle doesn’t count as essential items in a kitchen, I’ll admit – but that didn’t exactly stop me from pestering the family to buy one. It’s true; with all sorts of blenders and kitchen gadgets out there, you’d probably save yourself that extra energy and elbow grease just by pressing ‘pulse’. The parentals actually went through the pros and cons of buying a smooth vs rough cut, a bigger set vs a smaller one, where they should source one, etc. Me? I just wanted a set! After all, isn’t there just something unbelievably rustic and feel-good about these stone bowls and bats?
… Or maybe I’m just a 60’s housewife incarnate. Yeah, okay.
Anyway, we finally bought a set, and the first thing I decided to make with it was pesto. This recipe is from Frugal Feeding and it sounded too good to pass up. My family is quite indifferent about pesto, and really, this dish didn’t change their minds about it, so let’s just say that my motivation for making this was purely selfish. Hey, at least I’m honest! You can’t please everyone, yes? The good thing is if you love pesto, you’ll have no problems with making your own, especially if you have a nifty blender. Or you can be old-fashioned like me and pound everything up in the mortar!
I did notice though, that pine nuts are unbelievably expensive for a measly amount, so I changed it to a mixture of pine nuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas. This does make the pesto a bit drier (and the other seeds are more hardy so whack them good) so you will need to drizzle in more oil, and reserved pasta water when you toss it with the fettucini. Unfortunately, I forgot to toast the nuts and that would’ve made a lot of difference, so don’t be like me. I also lessened the amount of parmesan as my father is slightly lactose intolerant. Naturally, being a dairy freak, I would’ve thrown in a whole cow had I been given free rein; restraint is not my strongest suit so there is an upside to dad’s condition after all! Feel free to use chicken or turkey mince or even fish if that’s what you prefer, but stay away from the red meat for this one.
Now work it good!
Chicken & Pesto Fettucini
- 400 g fettucini
- 4 chicken fillets, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup pesto
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- to serve: grated Parmesan
- Boil fettucini until almost al dente (it will be heated again) and drain. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
- Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a pot and fry the chicken slices until cooked through. Remove from pot.
- Pour in the remaining olive oil and add in the garlic. Fry for 30 seconds before adding in the chicken slices again.
- Add in the pesto and reserved pasta water. Season, mix well, and throw in the fettucini.
- Turn off the heat and toss well.
- Ladle into individual serving bowls and serve with grated cheese.
Homemade Basil Pesto
Adapted from Frugal Feeding
- 1 1/2 cups basil leaves, washed and dried
- 1/2 cup seed mix (including pine nuts), toasted
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt & pepper to taste
- Using a mortar and pestle or blender, grind everything except the olive oil.
- Slowly mix the olive oil into the mixture and combine well.