Spring has sprung: Spaghetti genovese

Spaghetti genovese

It sure feels good to be home. I enjoyed my time in Whyalla, but a month away from home has taught me that there are some things telephones and facebook can't substitute. Driving home, I was looking forward to two things most — a night in my own bed, and a meal in my own kitchen.

Back in Adelaide I was shocked to learn that not only is it abnormal for every exposed surface to be covered in red sand, but that while I was away winter had become spring. Whyalla lacks seasonal flora, so the change of seasons is instead noticed by experienced locals who are able to sense a shift in the weather either slightly up or slightly down the scale of "uncomfortably warm and dusty". Back in Adelaide — where I am, at least — you wouldn't guess that we're still years into a chronic water shortage. The trees are green, flowers are blooming, and the skies are blue. Life is good.

As one does when life is good, I made pesto. Well, that was the plan. When it became clear that I'd left my paid-for pine nuts on the shop counter at the markets, I diverted course slightly and made what would be better described as a basil, cashew, and lemon paste. It doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 'pesto', but damn does it taste good. The generous amount of lemon makes it zestier than a traditional basil & pinenut pesto, which is perfect for a warm evening. I could even see this working at room temperature in place of your usual pasta salad.

Now without further ado, please allow me to officially return the second pancake to its regularly scheduled programming. Pesto & genovese recipe after the jump.

Basil, cashew & lemon pesto


  • 40 g fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 40 g roasted cashew nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • The juice and zest of 1 small lemon
  • 15 g (about 2 tbsp) parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
  • Salt, to taste

1. Grind the cashew nuts to a powder in a food processor, then set aside1.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend in a food processor until completely smooth. Add the ground cashews and pulse to combine.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly2. Transfer to a jar and cover with a film of olive oil to store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

(1) I do this step first because the nuts are ground to a powder much more easily than if they're added whole and blended in later.
(2) When tried alone, mine tasted quite overseasoned both in the sour and salt departments. However mixed through pasta this is necessary to ensure the flavour of the pesto holds its own.

Pasta genovese is essentially pasta with pesto and vegetables. Easy. If you're clever you could cook the vegetables with the pasta, but my timing isn't good enough for that.

(Bastardised) spaghetti genovese

Ingredients (serves 1, scales easily):

  • 90 g spaghetti
  • Small handful of haricot verts or green beans, chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 small waxy potato, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tbsp basil & cashew pesto (recipe above)
  • Pepper, to taste

1. Set 2 pots of water on the stove to boil. Into one add the potatoes, and the pasta into the other.
2. 4-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the beans in with the potatoes.
3. Drain both the vegetables and pasta, and add to a pan with the pesto. Crack a generous helping of black pepper on top, and toss to combine.

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