I would never forget the very first time I had my taste of Pesto Pasta at Fazoli’s, Eastwood City. I was in elementary that time, and like most people my age, I hated herbs and vegetables. My sister and I had no idea what Pesto was back then, and because it sounded delicious (she didn’t want me to order the same thing she did), she ordered that for me. I didn’t enjoy any bit of it, but since it’s a bit expensive I tried with all my might to finish the whole plate. I even remember saying, “Lasang puno (It tastes like a tree),” and it made my sister laugh. So, I learned my lesson and made a mental note to avoid food that has anything to do with Pesto.
But weird as it may seem, I think maturing into an adult is accompanied by a huge change with food palatability. We realize that vegetables aren’t that bad tasting after all, and that our food choices no longer fall under just two taste categories – sweet and salty. There is now the delectable bitter, the sour, or the hot/spicy (though technically spicy is not a flavor or taste. It’s a sensation. Try putting chili on your tongue and on your lip/skin. They experience the same thing – heat.)
Moving forward. As I started exploring the whole variety of flavors I could experience in the world, I found “Pesto” once again. This time, it’s not on a chalkboard menu at Fazoli’s, but on a backlit display of World Chicken at TriNoma Mall, Quezon City. The food adventurer inside me took over, and soon I had a plate with a whopping serving of Pesto Cream Pasta, Potato Salad, and Grilled Chicken with Ranch Barbecue Sauce. If we were not inside a mall, I’d lick my whole plate clean because I was sure I had a taste of heaven. From then on, I would always opt for Pesto Cream Pasta, and even influencing my other friends to give it a try. They loved it.
I had many failed attempts on making Pesto Cream before. Not that I don’t have the skill to make it, but because I found the ingredients to be a bit pricey. So a big thanks to my sister, Mhel, for shouldering the expenses as a gift on my birthday, and to my friend, Katrina Castro, for giving me the idea.
Let’s start with the Basil Pesto recipe. I made this the day before my birthday because I thought it would take hours to finish, but in less than 20 minutes I was done.
Basil Pesto Recipe
Makes about 1 cup.
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
Expensive!! Php 360/100grams, but don’t worry you’ll only need 50 grams for this recipe.
You can substitute pine nuts with toasted walnuts or almonds. Cashews should work well too.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Expensive! Php 96 for a 250-ml bottle. We bought this brand. It’s the cheapest.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Expensive! Php170+ / 100grams. Perfect Italiano was the only available parmesan cheese available.
Salt and pepper
Note: If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender (or a Tupperware Speedy Chopper if you have one) or manually grind the ingredients using a mortar and pestle. Make sure everything’s chopped into bits to minimize grits or coarse grains in your pesto sauce.
1. Chop garlic and pine nuts in food processor. Pulse a few times.
2. Add the basil and pulse a few more times.
3. Add the olive oil slowly while the food processor is running.
4. Scrape down the sides of the processor, add the grated cheese, pulse again to blend.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Refrigerate/Freeze the basil pesto mixture.
FYI: If you refrigerate Pesto Cream, it could only last 1 WEEK max! But if you freeze it, it can last for many, many months.
Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe
1 cup of Basil Pesto (Recipe above)
250 ml or 1 cup of All-purpose Cream
2 tbsp. of Olive oil
1/2 kilo of linguine pasta (or any kind of pasta would do)
Salt and Pepper
1. Use a sauce pan on low heat.
2. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil.
3. Put 1 cup of Basil Pesto, then stir to warm it evenly.
4. Add the 1 cup of All-purpose cream slowly, then stir.
5. You can add 1/3 cup of pasta water (the water you used in cooking your pasta) to thin out the sauce.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Cook for 5 minutes.
8. Slowly pour to your cooked linguine pasta (al dente).
Grilled Chicken Recipe
1 kilo of Chicken Breast Fillet
2 tbsp. of Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. of Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Juice / Calamansi
1. Flatten chicken breasts so they would be equal in thickness. You can use a bottle to flatten them or a meat tenderizer.
2. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
3. Add the garlic powder and lemon juice / calamansi.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Grill until well done, about 5 minutes per side.
There you have it. It’s that easy. I just made my own simple gravy to accompany my grilled chicken and served it with my Creamy Pesto Pasta. It’s a perfectly healthful meal to share with your family and friends. So go ahead, try it and tell me how your own version went.