I know the whole ‘deconstructed’ thing can sometimes be used as an excuse to be pretentious (however you try to convince me, a slice of apple and a biscuit on a plate is not a ‘deconstructed apple pie’), but in this case it’s really just a way of saving on washing up – so basically the least high-class thing ever. This deconstructed pesto pasta has all the usual elements of pesto – pine nuts, basil, olive oil, parmesan – but rather than having to use a food processor, they’re just stirred through the pasta as is. All the flavour, but none of the fuss.
I also added some chickpeas to my pasta for an extra hit of protein, and to bulk out the pasta with something a bit more nutritionally dense. White pasta isn’t the most healthy thing to be eating, but I can’t quite bring myself to make the switch to whole wheat (for some reason I prefer brown rice to white, but I find brown pasta somewhat reminiscent of cardboard), so I try to compensate for this indulgence in other ways. I also topped the dish with some juicy roasted tomatoes – perfect to add some colour and an incredible sweetness. I am yet to find any vegetable that isn’t drastically improved by roasting. Answers on a postcard please.
I usually eat pesto pasta hot, but it also makes a great pasta salad if eaten cold. It would be perfect for lunch boxes – just stick it in a tub and off you go. Much cheaper than those premade pesto pasta salads you can buy in the shops – 2 quid for a tiny portion! For just fifteen minutes of effort the night before, you can make your own.
- ~10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Black pepper
- 150g pasta (I used penne)
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3tbsp pine nuts
- 150g tinned chickpeas (drained)
- 6tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 20g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, shaved
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F). Scatter the halved tomatoes in a baking dish, and season with salt and black pepper (I didn't use any oil, but if your dish tends to stick then you might need a little). Roast for around 25 minutes.
- About ten minutes after putting the tomatoes in the oven, begin the rest of the dish. Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the garlic and pine nuts. Cook over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until fragrant but not coloured. Add the chickpeas, and cook for a further 5 minutes to warm through.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the chickpeas. Add the fresh basil, and mix well to coat the pasta with the oil.
- Serve warm or cold, topped with the roasted tomatoes and a few shavings of parmesan.