INSALATA DI PASTA CON PESTO, POMODORINI E OLIVE – PASTA SALAD WITH PESTO, SWEET CHERRY TOMATOES AND OLIVES

Recipe n. 22

I love Summer time and with it the fruits and vegetables available during this season. Soon we are going to spend some time in Italy to visit my family and I can’t wait to eat all the simple and tasty dishes made with some of my favorites ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, capers and olives. I’m also looking forward to picking lemons from our trees and fresh herbs and sitting outside in the evening, when finally after a hot day spent at the beach, sometimes there is a light and pleasant breeze in the air which brings up the wonderful scents of the plants and flowers in our garden. I really miss all of that. Meanwhile, while we are still here in the city I try to anticipate this memory of summertime in Sicily during my childhood, cooking the same kinds of dishes. Yesterday I cooked ‘insalata di pasta’ and had dinner with my family on the sun terrace of the building where we live.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh bunch of basil (about 2 cups)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼  cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sweet Cherry tomatoes chopped (you can use any kind of tomatoes)
  • Pitted black and green olives sliced in roundels.
  • Short Pasta (I like to use whole wheat fusilli)
  • Salt and Pepper

In a food processor place 1 garlic clove and pulse until chopped. Add the basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times. Add the olive oil slowly until you obtain a creamy pesto. Transfer to a large salad bowl and mix with Parmesan cheese. Add the chopped olives and tomatoes.

In a medium stockpot with salted boiling water add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well before serving. Keep it refrigerated if you’re not eating it right away.

INSALATA DI POLLO AL PESTO E VERDURE ARROSTITE – CHICKEN PESTO SALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

Recipe n. 17

In one of our recent trips to Ireland we went to visit some friends of ours who live in a lovely little village in the middle of the countryside. They have two great kids and their mum Lynn besides being a beautiful mom, is also a great cook. She cooked lunch for us and I totally fell in love with this dish. It was so tasty, fresh and different from the Irish cuisine, that I am prepared for when in Ireland. I almost felt at home, in Sicily. The way all these ingredients and colors complement each other is absolutely great! As soon as I came back to the States I started to make this dish over and over again. Unfortunately I never wrote down the recipe and the ingredients, so it might not be exactly the same. This version is what is left in my mind from the memory of the flavors, which inspired me so much.

As I said in my last post, I made pesto and cooked extra roasted vegetables to be added to this dish, which looks elaborate but if you  roast your vegetables  as well as making pesto a day in advance,  at the end it’s all  about ‘assembling’  and it’s all well worth while!

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh bunch of basil (about 2 cups)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb chicken breast cubed
  • 10 shallots roasted
  • 1 yellow or red roasted bell pepper
  • Mesclun salad
  • Edible flowers for garnish or thyme flowers  (optional)
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Roast the pepper and shallots according to my previous post ‘ROASTED VEGETABLES – Recipe n.16 ‘. In a food processor place 1 garlic clove and pulse until chopped. Add the basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times. Add the olive oil slowly until you obtain a creamy pesto. Transfer to a bowl and mix with Parmesan cheese.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the chicken through until crispy brown on the outside.  Transfer the chicken to a dish with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. In a large salad bowl place the mesclun salad, chopped roasted shallots and bell peeper and dress with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Mix the chicken with a ¼ cup of pesto sauce and transfer to the salad bowl. Add the flowers for garnish and you can enjoy your salad!

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