Spinach, Rocket and Basil Pesto

Went a bit crazy on the weekend and cooked an entire packet of pasta for meal prep. I ended up splitting the mix into six generous sized portions. For quick and easy pasta dishes, I like doing an oil base with cherry tomatoes, basil, feta/bocconcini, olives etc. Unfortunately those items don’t freeze very well alas, pesto made an appearance once again in my kitchen.

Unfortunately due to the seasonality of basil plants, the one in our garden was looking a bit sad. There was enough on there to give me the basil flavour I was after but had to pump up the mix with something else. I had recently bought a mixed bag of baby spinach and rocket and completely forgot about it in the fridge. It had just enough life left that I could still freeze it and use it later. Figured it was a good way to get more veg into my dish so went with that.

I love the versatility of pesto. I have used it in a pasta dish but you can also use it for salad dressings, steak toppers or even on toast.

Spinach, Rocket and Basil Pesto

What you’re going to need

100g baby spinach and rocket mix

generous handful basil leaves

6 walnuts

20g grated cheese

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – adjust if necessary

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. In a pulse blender, add all ingredients.
  2. Blend until mix is well combined and at a desired consistency (I like mine a bit chunky)
  3. That’s it! Use immediately or freeze in portion sizes to use later on.

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Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).

 

Basil and Rocket Pesto

I love making pesto because there is no cooking involved besides what you’re serving it with. Which means…you can make it in bulk ahead of time and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it! I used rocket in my recipe because it adds another dimension to the dish and also just because it’s a great way to incorporate more greens into your diet! I’ve been making pesto for a long time but I feel like I can safely say that I’m 100% percent happy with the recipe I’m presenting today.

Basil and Rocket Pesto

What you’re going to need

Handful basil leaves (save yourself a heap of coin by growing your own)

Handful baby rocket leaves

1 clove garlic, crushed

6 walnuts

4 tablespoons olive oil

pinch sea salt

Method

1. Chuck all of your ingredients into a pulse blender/food processor until desired consistency is achieved

2. Serve with fettucine (I left a little bit of pasta water in with the pasta just to give to this dish a bit more moisture!