Serendipity sometimes brings scientists to discover potent medicines, musicians to conjure heart-wrenching tunes, and mamas to concoct new recipes.
It’s when you’re desperate to use up the stuff in your fridge before going on a holiday that you feel adventurous enough to try something silly, steeped in the knowledge that you can justify the inevitable disasters with “I needed to use up that pot of cream/jar of capers/pickled ginger/etc.”. Nobody likes returning from a holiday and finding their homes teeming with rats playing football with olives on a field of mould.
So, before going on a family trip away, I went crazy, shaved all my basil pots, whizzed them into pesto, and slapped it over slices of fried tofu. But, after expressions of concern from family members, I stopped at the second tofu slice.
I then took my pesto fury onto the pasta, originally intended as a bacon and broad beans pasta, then turned into a pesto, bacon and broad beans pasta dish. Only this, serendipitous, dish was successful in gaining appreciation by family members.
But, for the sake of honest reporting in an age ridden with of fake-news, I’m reporting both the successful dish and the not so successful one. Because mamas too make culinary mistakes and, hopefully, this will boost your confidence. My grandma used to say: “Chi non risica non rosica” [pronounced ‘ki non reeseeka non roseeka’] which means “those who don’t take risks, don’t nibble”.
- Firm tofu
- Olive oil
- Fresh broad beans
- Short pasta
- Hard Italian cheese (grana/pecorino/ parmesan)
- Pine nuts (or pistachio nuts)
- Persuade your children (or anyone) to open the bean pods to release the broad beans, unless you love doing it yourself (mind, it can stain your fingers brown).
- Cook the pesto last, because the basil leaves tend to brown (unless you add some of the pasta’s boiling water to the newly whizzed pesto)
- Fry some onion in olive oil
- Add diced bacon/lardons/pancetta and fry for a bit.
- Add the fresh broad beans and cover. Some people remove the tough skin, but I can’t be bothered. Cook a little, then turn off the fire.
- Put some water in a pot and put it on the fire, for the pasta.
- Cut some firm tofu into slices and fry it.
- Drain the fried tofu on kitchen paper.
- When the water is boiling, pour in the pasta and set a timer for two minutes less than the recommended cooking time.
- Prepare the ingredients for pesto: one clove of garlic, some grated grana or parmesan or pecorino or other Italian hard cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves. I’m using some pistachio nuts to bulk up the nuts because I’ve got very few pine nuts left in my cupboard.
- Whizz the nuts and garlic, then add the cheese and lastly the basil.
- Drop some pasta cooking water to stop the basil browning and a little olive oil.
- Spread the pesto on the tofu, if you dare.
- Drain the pasta and dress it with the pesto and the bacon and broad beans.
The one below is what I had originally intended to cook: pasta with bacon and broad beans.
Unfortunately, to make pesto I had to buy a piece of cheese, which I didn’t manage to finish. So I gave it my neighbour. I could have given my neighbour the basil plants in the first place.