LINGUINE WITH ORANGE PESTO AND EGGPLANT
This is a most unusual but fantastic pesto. The presence of oranges and almonds, which contribute subtlety of taste and colour, tells us that it probably originates from Sicily or the south of Italy. Here we have combined it with eggplant, ricotta and linguine, but this versatile pesto is also excellent stirred through any type of dried pasta, served with couscous or used as the basis of a salad dressing. For this recipe you will only need two or three tablespoons of the pesto, but the rest will last in the fridge for about 2 weeks, if kept covered with a thin layer of olive oil.
- eggplant (aubergine)
- sea salt
- 180 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 400 g linguine
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
- 150 g ricotta freshly grated parmesan, to serve
- 3 oranges, peeled, all pith and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 80 g basil leaves
- 200 g blanched almonds
- 50 g capers in salt, rinsed and dried
- pinch of sea salt
- about 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
For the pesto, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on low speed until fine, adding more olive oil if necessary to make a smooth, creamy pesto. Transfer the pesto to a small lidded container and cover with a thin film of olive oil.
Cut the ends off the eggplant, then cut into 1 cm thick slices. Place the slices in a colander over the sink, sprinkle with sea salt and leave for 40 minutes to sweat out any bitter juices. Rinse the salt from the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until very hot, then fry the eggplant slices until golden on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, cut into strips about 5 cm × 0.5 cm. Set aside.
Cook the linguine in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, rub the inside of a large serving bowl with the cut surfaces of the garlic clove. Add the ricotta, eggplant strips, 2–3 tablespoons of the pesto and a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water. Mix well. Drain the linguine, add to the bowl and toss gently, adding more pesto to taste. Sprinkle with a little grated parmesan and serve immediately.
Extract from The Art of Pasta by Lucio Galletto and David Dale, published by Lantern Australia, RRP $39.99.
Photography by Anson Smart and illustrations by Luke Sciberras