Sunday, May 22, 2005

Souvenirs: Pesto alle Noci

One of my souvenirs from the Vucciria market in Palermo was a small jar of walnut pesto. Its contents were listed as walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, and natural flavorings. Actually, when I purchased it I didn't have my dictionary with me and though I knew it contained nuts and olive oil, I mistakenly thought they were hazelnuts and assumed that the unrecognized ingredients would make it akin to what I know as pesto. In reality, it was more of a nut paste.

When I got home I googled about and found a recipe for Pasta With Walnut Paste and Pancetta. I substituted my Pesto alle Noci for the walnuts and olive oil, reduced the amounts of pancetta and parmesan to assuage my conscience a little, and replaced some of the pasta with chicken and brocolli. The results were delicious!

Chicken, Brocolli and Shells with Walnut Pesto

Jar of pesto alle noci (about 3/4 cup)
OR 1 cup toasted walnuts and 1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and cut into eighths
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 - 2 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds brocolli, cut up
1 whole chicken breast, cut into one inch chunks
1/2 pound small shell pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Put garlic, jalapeno pepper, and walnuts, if using, into food processor and process until finely chopped. If using walnuts and oil, with motor running gradually add the olive oil through the feed tube until smooth paste is formed. If using pesto alle noci, add the pesto and process for a few more seconds. Add the parmesan and pulse a few times.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat a large non-stick saute pan. Add the pancetta and cook a few minutes until starting to brown. Add the chicken and cook until slightly browned and opaque. Remove from heat and cover until pasta and brocolli are ready.

When water is boiling add pasta. During the last two minutes add the brocolli. When done, drain and add to pan with chicken. Add pesto and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

Oooh. This sounds so good. I've never had walnut pesto before, but I can imagine how wonderful it must taste (I love walnuts!). Thanks for giving me a dinner idea. =)

Niki said...

Ooooh walnut paste. That sounds fabulous!

Cathy said...

Hi Reid and Niki - It was, it was! I had some chicken I really needed to use, but I think it would be good without the chicken too.