750 g/1 lb 11 oz fresh linguine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE PESTO:
6 plump garlic cloves, roughly chopped
150 g/5 oz very good Parmesan, grated
100 g/4 oz wild rocket
200 ml/7 fl oz olive oil
A few basil leaves (optional)
1 tsp Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp grain mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1–2 bird’s eye chillies
An extra 100 g/4 oz rocket
100 g/4 oz sunblushed tomatoes
A few black olives, stoned and roughly chopped
30 g/1 oz pine kernels, lightly toasted
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Rocket Pesto Linguine and Wild Rocket
This is a ‘whizz-whizz’ affair. If you use a bag or two of supermarket fresh linguine, you’ll be done in 10 minutes from start to finish and you’ll have a restaurant-smart meal to boot. These days I keep a tub of sunblushed tomatoes in the fridge pretty much all the time. A few pieces scattered over a bowl of this wild green provide a sweet, sharp contrast. A few roughly chopped black olives are nice too, but if you think the appeal is all in the restraint, then hold back.
Put a large pot of water to boil while you proceed with the following. You are in effect going to be making a rocket pesto, so you need to start with roughly chopped garlic and grated Parmesan.
Then you can simply place everything except for the bird’s eye chilli in the herb attachment of a food processor (and go easy on the black pepper). You’ll probably find that you can’t at first shove in all
the rocket, so add what you can, give the whole thing a few pulses then add the rest and whizz again.
Don a pair of gloves and chop the bird’s eye chilli to a red speckle, discarding the seeds as far as possible. Transfer the pesto to a bowl or jar and mix the chilli into it.
Plunge the pasta into the boiling water, salted by now, and give it a good poke and a prod to loosen the strands. Drain (a few drops of hot water left clinging helps to disperse the sauce) and return to the
hot pan. Stir in about 10–12 tablespoons pesto.
Transfer to oven-warmed bowls with a generous scatter of rocket, tomato pieces, roughly chopped black olives, pine kernels and a few delicate slivers of Parmesan. Eat at once.
You can keep the pesto in the fridge for a month and more in a screw-top jar. For a rocket and Parmesan risotto just add spoonfuls of the pesto to risotto rice about halfway through its cooking time.
This time though, stir the extra rocket into the rice moments before serving so that it wilts in the heat. More Parmesan is a good thing.