This dish shows again my deep love for anything pasta. This time, the usual pesto is enhance with malunggay leaves, making it more nutritious. This green paste of crushed fresh basil leaves, pine nuts and oilve oil is more related to the Italians, but we will adapt it and make it our very own Pinoy pasta paste.
For this twist, we will still use the sweet Italian basil and we will add half the volume of the kamunggay leaves. For me, pesto will never be a pesto without this herb so better use any amount of basil. Instead of pine nuts, I used cashew nuts, with just the same effect. For purists and wanted to use pine nuts, you can buy some in any deli shops around the metro.
Pesto can be more than just a dressing to your pasta. It can be used as a marinade for meats or make this as a dip for crackers.
Making the pesto sauce is as quick as 1-2-3, all we need here is a food processor.
1 cup kamunggay leaves
1 cup basil leaves, you can add more depending on the consistency of the paste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup crushed roasted cashew nuts
2 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste
MAKING THE PESTO:
Prepare the malunggay: since malunggay has distinct strong taste when fresh, we have to wilt the leaves in frying pan with olive oil for a few minutes. Set aside when wilted. Tip: make sure you only use the kamunggay leaves, less those hard "twigs" (you don't want to eat this in your pesto, do you?) so take your time to really clean up the leaves.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse continuously until you reach a smooth and creamy consistency of a pesto. You may need to stop the machine once in a while and scrape down the sides of the processor's bowl to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
Tip: Pesto can be made 2-3 days in advance. Store pesto in lid tight containers and made sure to cover paste with some olive oil. Keep it in fridge.
PASTA with KAMUNGGAY PESTO:
Now that you have a ready pesto, its time to prepare for pasta. I recommend spaghetti, linguine, or fusili as this sauce coats perfectly to these type of pastas.
Cook your pasta according to package direction: remember in mind it should just be tender to the bite (al dente). Drain it well and toss this to a bowl with pesto. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese (mine is just the plain cheddar, still have no time to go to deli shops) and fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately. You can also garnish it with extra pine nuts.
Enjoy this healthy pasta made up of fresh basil and kamunggay leaves!