Pesto Two Ways

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July 9, 2013 by Dewi

Rigati with feta cheese and pesto alla Genovese; Fusilli with chicken, spinach and pesto rosso. Two amazing pasta dishes in one post!

In my post about the BBC Good Food Show, I mentioned that I had bought some lovely ingredients from artisan producers, Olive Branch. I wanted to use their produce, particularly the olive oil, to make a dish where good, high quality ingredients were essential. Olive Branch olive oil is so delicious that I could quite honestly sit on the sofa of an evening and just use it to dip some fresh bread and completely gorge myself. But that wouldn’t make for much of a blog post. And the photos wouldn’t be very nice, either.

Anyway, I decided to make pesto! Because pesto is so simple and uses so few ingredients, those ingredients have got to be good quality. Especially the olive oil, which holds the whole lot together. So for the Pesto alla Genovese, I used Olive Branch extra-virgin olive oil, and for the pesto rosso, I added to the mix a few teaspoons of Olive Branch’s delicious sun-dried tomato paste. Both pestos will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, but frankly they’re so delicious that neither will last anywhere near that long.

Rather than just make the two pestos (which would make for a slightly thin blog entry) I thought I’d spoil you and give you two absolutely delicious pasta dishes in one post.

Firstly, the base pesto alla Genovese recipe:

  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • Large bunch fresh basil
  • 80ml good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 75g pine nuts
  • 50g parmesan cheese



Either bash up the ingredients in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt and pepper, or pulse in a food processor until a coarse paste is formed.



Great with these two recipes:

Rigati with Feta Cheese and Pesto alla Genovese

Serves 1

  • 2 tablespoons pesto alla Genovese
  • 75g rigati pasta (or whichever pasta tubes you’d like)
  • 50g feta cheese, chopped into small cubes
  • Small handful extra pine nuts



Cook the pasta in salted water as per the packet instructions.

Toast the extra pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Once the pasta is cooked drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water.

Add the feta, the pesto and the pasta water and toss until they’re really well mixed.

To serve, sprinkle over the extra pine nuts and drizzle with a little more olive oil.


Fusilli with Chicken, Spinach and Pesto Rosso

Serves 1

  • 2 tablespoons pesto alla Genovese
  • 2 teaspoons good quality sun-dried tomato paste
  • 135g chicken breast
  • 75g fusilli pasta (these pasta twirls are amazing at holding the pesto!)
  • Good handful of baby-leaf spinach

Cook pasta in salted water as per the packet instructions.

Mix the pesto in a bowl with the tomato paste to make pesto rosso.


Season the chicken and cook in a frying pan or a griddle in a little olive oil over a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, turning once or twice, until the chicken is golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken and leave to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.


When the pasta is cooked, drain the water (reserving a few tablespoons).

To the pasta, add the pesto rosso, spinach and the pasta water. Toss until everything is really well combined.


To serve, place the sliced chicken on the top of the pasta and drizzle over a little more olive oil.



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