I noticed that I haven’t shared many pasta recipes lately… and for an Italian food blogger that’s bad! Oh so bad! So, today I am going to make it up to you with a special post that is very good for you! My dear friend Cì from Il Mondo di Cì informed me of a very special contest that is going on in the Italian food blogging community. It is called “Olio, Erbe e Fantasia” (“Oil, Herbs and Fantasy”) and it’s being organised by LILT (the Italian Association against Cancer) for Cancer Prevention Week (March 17th to 25th) to raise awareness and money for cancer research. The goal of the contest is “… to spread the knowledge and use of herbs, and extra virgin olive oil which is the symbol of the campaign, by exchanging ideas and knowledge about the ways in which they are used with the aim of introducing their utilization as part of a daily habit for healthy eating”. Being Italian, I tend to use extra virgin olive oil a lot in my cooking, but I know not everybody in the world does. I think it is important that people know the benefits of introducing extra virgin olive oil and herbs in their diets as they are really good for you. I have asked, and the contest is open to EVERYONE, no matter where you are. If you would like to participate, please read the full rules of participation (in English) here.
For this contest, I wanted to create something from scratch that not only included some of the ingredients listed in the rules, but also represented me and my heritage. Additionally, I also wanted it to be vegan, in honour of my friend Cì who introduced me to the contest. I thought of many things, but then came back to my origin: it had to be something “Sicilian”. In the end, I made busiati! And created a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, basil & parsley and a pistachio pesto to go with them. I topped the final dish with some crunchy zucchini sticks for some extra texture. It was delicious and very healthy! So… what are you waiting for?! Dig in! And participate, it’s for a good cause!
Original recipe by Manuela Zangara
Ingredients for 4 persons:
For the sauce:
6-7 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp of tomato purée
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
For the blended herbs:
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of basil
1.5 tbsp parsley
For the pistachio pesto:
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove of garlic
3 tbsp of unsalted pistachios
For the crunchy zucchini:
1 big zucchini, cut into thin sticks
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
360 gms of home-made busiati (or strozzapreti or fusilli)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano thinly grated to serve
Start by making busiati. You can follow this step by step tutorial.
To make the crunchy zucchini:
Cut the zucchini into thin sticks and put it on a baking dish layered with baking paper. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and broil in a very hot oven for a few minutes, until golden and crisp. Keep aside.
To make the sauce:
Crush the garlic and put it in a frying pan with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Let it fry on a low fire for a minute. Then add the halved cherry tomatoes, the tomato purée, a pinch of salt and 3 tbsp of water. Let the sauce cook for 5 minutes on a slow fire. Then put the fire off and keep it aside.
To make the blended herbs:
Blend the basil and parsley leaves together with the 1.5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and keep it aside.
To make the pistachio pesto:
Crush the pistachios with the garlic clove in a mortar and pestle. Add the extra virgin olive oil and keep it aside.
Cook the busiati following the steps on How to cook pasta “al dente” in the Techniques page of this site, but drain it 1 minute before it is fully cooked as it will finish cooking together with the sauce. Before draining the pasta, put 2 tbsp of the pasta water in the tomato sauce. Put the drained pasta in the frying pan with the tomato sauce and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well.
Divide the pasta into 4 bowls, drizzle it with the blended basil and parsley and sprinkle the pistachio pesto on the top. Decorate with the crunchy zucchini sticks.
Serve with some finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Ricetta ideata da Manuela Zangara per il concorso “Olio, Erbe e Fantasia”- LILT.