So um, yeah I don’t have any chocolate cake for you this week. Or for Jason for that matter. I feel like such an evil witch! Thing is, after coming back from Florida and eating like rabid pigs the entire 10 days I sorta felt like we needed to dial back a bit and treat our bodies to more healthful and nutritious things. I’ve also upped my workout game for this month and was excited to hear from Jason that he was going to start running after work. I’m kind of a fitness junkie (if you haven’t already noticed from all my obsessive Instagram photos) so the fact that he decided to do it on his own made me really happy.
When we got back from Florida, one of the first things I noticed was my overflowing herb garden. I was surprised to see that my cilantro had grown back. I thought that was an annual? My oregano and thyme were flowering, but my chives…oh my chives! I have to tell you, I’ve had this original plant since we were still living in the apartments about 9 years ago and back then it was a tiny little sucker in one of those brown plastic pots you buy them in. Since then, it’s grown (and over-grown and invaded) into huge, massive plantings in our raised garden bed. It’s even started to creep out and into the grass! I never realized how invasive this thing is. I’m not too bothered by it though because I’m just happy it continues to come back each year with little effort from me. Jason might have a different sentiment though since he’s the one that has to trim them back. Oops!
I really, really love this pasta dish. Whenever I make it for my clients I always tell myself, ‘This is really good. I should make it for myself sometime.’ It’s really rather comical– there will be times where I’ve made a refrigerator-full of delicious gourmet food for my client and then I come home and stuff my face with a lazily put together piece of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s then that I wonder, ‘Well, how does that work?’
The chives in this pesto are really somethin’. And I like adding a little bit of lemon to this to perk it up. Walnuts always seem to be my first choice when making pesto, mainly because it’s what my grandma uses but also because I happen to think it tastes the best. Remember to keep a little bit of pasta water to add to the pesto later to make the sauce– it is your friend.
Whole wheat fusilli with chive-basil pesto and Pecorino Romano
1 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 large garlic clove
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
Zest 1 lemon
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Pinch Aleppo chili flakes or red pepper chili flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
12 ounce box whole wheat fusilli
1/3 cup pasta water, reserved
1/3 – 1/2 cup walnuts (depending on how many nuts you want dispersed through the pasta), toasted and chopped roughly
Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
Set a large pot of water to boil. Once it does, throw in a generous amount of salt and toss in the fusilli, stirring, and then letting cook until al dente. When it’s done cooking, ladle out 1/3 cup of the pasta water and put it into a large bowl where you’ll combine the pasta and pesto together. Drain the pasta and set aside.
In a food processor combine the chives, basil, garlic, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, mayo, Pecorino Romano, Aleppo/red pepper chili flakes, salt and pepper. While it processes, drizzle in the olive oil until completely incorporated. Taste for seasoning.
Add pesto into large bowl with pasta water and then add in the fusilli. Toss together gently with large spoons until the pesto sauce has coated all the noodles wonderfully. Add in the toasted chopped walnuts and toss again. Serve immediately or at room temperature with freshly shaved Pecorino Romano.
Note: If you have leftovers, eat them straight out of the fridge or at room temperature. I find that if you warm up pasta that already has pesto on it, the sauce dries out. Cold or room temperature pasta though is very delicious and makes for a light, spring lunch!