Wednesday, 27 April 2011

No time to make a picnic? Knock up a quick Pesto Pasta and eat Al Fresco!

I set myself one task for this weekend - to create 'the mother of all picnics'. My picnic would include homemade sausage rolls, homemade scotch quails eggs, mini quiches, cheese magic wands, cherry and mozzarella skewers the list goes on and it was going to be a true feast. However, as per usual, time got the better of me. So my tummy and blog will have to wait until this Thursday where i have already allotted 3 hours prep time for my perfect picnic.

So instead of creating my picnic, I had about an hour to knock up some late lunch for Ed and I, catch the last rays of sunshine, pack my bags and head back to London town. I decided to cook an old favorite of mine, it's a great dish as its perfect all year round and your can always improvise a bit with the ingredients you have.

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Asparagus and Parmesan. 

Homemade Pesto:
You can easily buy pesto but you just cant beat making a homemade one. Its brighter, fresher and fun to make so give it a try! 
A good bunch or two of fresh Basil (remove all the leaves from the stalks)
1 garlic clove
25g (1 oz) pine nuts
About 125ml (4 fl oz) olive oil
4 tbsp freshly grated pecorino piccante cheese
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Salt to taste

Pop all the ingredients in a food processor. You'll know when to stop...

For the Pasta:
500g Dried Pasta
3-4 Chicken Breasts cut into chunks
200g Asparagus Tips
150g Cherry Toms
2 Red Peppers
Parmesan (dont buy pre grated parmesan, its not cool!! Try and get good quality stuff, its makes a lot of difference and is well worth it!)
tsp lemon juice
Wild Rocket

Pop the pasta into a pan of boiling water. Lightly Fry the chicken in a little olive oil for about 8 mins until golden. When the pasta is 2 minutes off being cooked, pop the asparagus into the pan with it. Once cooked, drain and leave to one side. Add the cherry toms and red peppers to the chicken and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then put the pasta and asparagus in the frying pan with the other ingredients and add the pesto. Turn the heat off (the heat from the pasta will heat up the pesto enough!) add a little knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with lots of pepper (but no salt as the parmesan and pesto will be salty already.) Serve with Wild Rocket, sprinkle with more grated parmesan, grab some sun and enjoy! 

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