Recipe: A recipe perfect for all pasta lovers

Thursday 25 February 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Features, Food


Recipe: A recipe perfect for all pasta lovers
Basil pesto and mushroom pasta. Raksha’s Kitchen/21022407

Basil pesto and mushroom pasta bursts with flavour, it’s fresh, light, summery and delicious. With a freshly made basil pesto, garlic mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, this recipe is perfect for all pasta lovers! By Alana Nanai-Fonmanu.

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It traditionally consists of crushed garlic, European pine nuts, salt, fresh basil leaves, and hard cheese such as Parmesan cheese all blended with olive oil.

But my version of this dish uses nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese (which is optional) and almonds in place of pine nuts. This recipe is gluten, dairy and egg free.

Early last year my mum brought home a branch of dried basil seeds and scattered them in our mini garden. They grew so fast like a wild bush! My sister and I couldn’t stand seeing all that basil not being used in our everyday cooking, we would use it in certain dishes just for flavour and garnishes. So, we decided to make our own pesto sauce which indeed required a handful of basil leaves!

We do have a lot of shops here in Rarotonga that sell pesto but nothing beats fresh and homemade. Even preparing it beforehand is a great idea, it can be stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to two months.

Homemade Basil Pesto

•          2 cups packed fresh basil (large stems removed)

•          3 Tbsp of almonds (roasted) or sunflower seeds

•          3 large cloves garlic (peeled)

•          2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice

•          1/4 tsp Pink Himalayan salt to taste

•          2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

•          3-6 Tbsp water (plus more as needed)


1. To a food processor or small blender, add the basil, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and blend/mix on high until a loose paste forms.

2. Add olive oil a little at a time (streaming in while the machine is on if possible) and scrape down sides as needed. Then add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) water at a time until the desired consistency is reached – a thick but pourable sauce.

3.  Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt for flavor, almonds for nuttiness, garlic for bite / zing, or lemon juice for acidity.

The Pasta

•          1 pack of Gluten free pasta – I prefer penne or swirls

•          2 cups of cherry tomatoes halved

•          8 - 10 medium sized mushrooms sliced

•          2 tbsps of nutritional yeast (optional, gives a cheese taste)

•          1 tbsp of olive oil

•          3 garlic cloves minced

•          Salt to taste

•          3 – 4 tbsps of your creamy homemade pesto


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

2. While waiting for water to boil for the pasta, start working on the other stuff. Sauté the mushrooms in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until softened. Add garlic and tomatoes and sauté a few minutes more. Add pesto sauce, nutritional yeast and salt; simmer to reduce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add your pasta and serve, sprinkled with some nutritional yeast and fresh chopped basil if you have it and enjoy!


Himalayan Salt on 01/03/2021