The other day three of us from our
University of Otago food quality management paper took a
field trip to the Pasta D'oro factory in Dunedin. Other than
leaving with a new appreciation for hand-crafted fresh pasta
we also left with a few goodies, including a nice jar of
sun-dried tomato pesto.
To use the pesto, I decided to bring out this old recipe that
I haven't made for ages. It's a wee bit on the expensive side
but it's good if you want to impress the ladies or that
special man in your life. After all, the way to a man's heart
is undoubtedly through his stomach and the best food to get
you there is, hands down, a good bowl of pasta.
Apparently pies are also a good method (according to the male
currently present in the room).
Traditional Italian pasta dishes are simple, using only a few
ingredients. Typically, only a very small amount of meat is
served with them, as most Italian dishes originated hundreds
of years ago when most people didn't have a lot of money to
spend on meat.
It wasn't until the Italian migration to the United States
that the meat portions became bigger, to show their families
their new-found prosperity in the new land.
This is not a good dinner to have if you are trying to eat
healthily, but it is good for the soul.
You can buy red pesto relatively cheaply if you leave the
chilled section and have a look in the pasta sauce section. I
found 160g jars for $3.50 on special. I also used light cream
in this recipe; it's the one that comes in the light-blue
cream bottle. Sure, it is still pretty high in fat but it is
not as bad as the full-fat stuff.
Once again, parmesan cheese makes an appearance in this. Mum
and Dad bought me two blocks when they came to visit me six
weeks ago and it was just tonight that I opened the second
block. If you can't afford a block of it, substitute the
parmesan in the sauce for a cheaper cheese then sprinkle over
a small amount of the parmesan as a garnish. That way you
will still get the thick creamy sauce as well as the taste of
The cheapest way to buy sun-dried tomatoes is at the
supermarket deli. Ask for 100g, or about 10 tomatoes. That
way you don't have to invest in a big jar mostly filled with
oil anyway. They are not the best quality but who are we to
be fussy? House-brand pitted black olives worked a treat at
just $1.49 a jar on special.
This recipe also says to add ½ cup of port or sherry. I
didn't have any and I didn't feel like forking out for a
whole bottle that I wasn't going to use so I left it out. It
still worked out fine so don't worry about it unless you do
actually have some lying around.
Chicken and red pesto fettuccine
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup black pitted olives left whole
½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 cup light cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan (or cheaper cheese if you don't mind
sacrificing the flavour)
1/3 cup red pesto
salt and pepper
1 packet of fresh fettuccine or enough dry fettuccine to feed
more basil, grated parmesan and pesto to garnish.
Heat the oil in a relatively deep frying pan and cook the
chicken and garlic until the chicken browns lightly. Add the
sun-dried tomatoes, olives and red pesto. Cook while still
stirring for another two minutes. Add the cream, cheese and
salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves. Simmer until the sauce
Meanwhile, cook your fettuccine in boiling salted water until
al dente. Drain the pasta, return to the pot then pour over
the sauce. Toss so that the pasta is coated nicely. Serve
with another small dollop of red pesto, a sprinkling of
grated parmesan and a basil leaf or two.
We had a dear friend come for dinner and she brought with her
some gluten-free pasta so she could join in on the carby
This was definitely worth the money and the calories.