Black Olive & Walnut Pesto Pasta

Uh oh. Ran out of time for the work period on Sunday. Almost everything was ready except the ingredients for the pasta. Thinking of a quick work around; why not make pesto with essentially the same things? So into the blender went a couple of cans of drained olives along with a jar of sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil and drained); a cupful of walnuts from the trees in our garden; and half a litre of olive oil. It made a generous amount for sure – about one litre which was way over double the amount I needed to dress two kilos of pasta for forty! I guess the leftovers will be a nice backdrop for another meal, or make a super tapenade and sandwich spread.

Amounts notwithstanding, the resulting pesto had a strong black nutty taste and a dark, mysterious truffle-like appearance with dainty flecks of green onion. Shuho-san thought it even tasted a bit like Bulldog Sauce (Tonkatsu); a spiced, dark ketchup that they use a lot in Japan as a condiment to certain dishes. Hmm. If you say, so? Anyway, ’tis a simple but serious pasta sauce indeed.

If desired, substitute the olive oil with the oil that the sundried tomatoes were packed in, but taste it first before using it to see if you like the flavour or, for that matter, the resonance.

Ingredients 

40 g (4 tablespoons chopped) black pitted olives, about 15 olives
2 large sun-dried tomatoes, preferably from a jar packed in oil.
20 g (3 tablespoons chopped) walnuts
45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled
Salt and black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon rosemary
1 stem green onion
300 g (3½ cups) pasta

Method

  • Mince the green onions and set aside.
  • If using dried, sun-dried tomatoes (that haven’t been soaked in oil), cover them with warm water until they soften. Reserve the tomato liquor just in case you can use it in the pesto.
  • Peel the garlic.
  • Place everything but the green onions in a blender or food processor and whizz together – short for a dark, textured pesto (as pictured); long for a lighter coloured, smooth pesto. Add an extra tablespoon of olive oil or, tomato liquor or water if needed to assist the blender.
  • Stir in the minced green onions. 
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Sprinkle in the pasta and bring back to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking. Turn the flame medium-low and simmer, following the instructions on the pasta package for cooking times, usually 8-9 minutes. Reserve a cup of pasta water for the pesto just before draining. When the pasta is cooked aldente, drain and rinse the excess starch off with hot water.
  • In a pre-heated serving bowl, mix half the pesto with a tablespoon or two of hot pasta water. Put in the drained pasta and toss, adding more pesto as needed.
  • Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, a little parsley for colour, and freshly ground black pepper

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