Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto

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Hot, hot hot!!!

For the past 4 days, the weather has been seriously warm. And with the temperature exceeding 30°C  with sweltering sunshine, I finally wanted to cook with basil. In my kitchen, I usually try to cook with the season’s ingredients. The other day, I was thinking about food pairings, especially with herbs. For example, it’s rare that there are autumn or winter vegetables that match well with soft herbs like chervil, dill, tarragon, basil, or mint, but on the other hand, sturdy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme,  or bay, go better together with these vegetables. Let me give you some specific examples; basil goes well with tomatoes, strawberries, capsicums, and zucchini, which are summer vegetables. But, it’s not such a good pairing with to earthy tasting, hearty cold weather vegetables like pumpkin, squash, parsnip, or cabbage.  Now summer is finally upon us here, I started craving basil, which hasn’t happened in many months for me. Peas are one of the first summer vegetables you can find and basil and mint are natural pairings. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find fresh local peas. I bought some once years ago but I haven’t been lucky since. If you are buying fresh peas, it’s important to buy the ones from your local farms, as the sweetness of the peas starts to diminish quickly after they are picked.  Here in this recipe, I have used frozen peas. I know using frozen vegetables might not sound too “foodie”, but peas are about the only frozen vegetable you would find in my freezer, and I find they taste actually quite similar to freshly podded peas.

This dish I made for lunch today is easy and quick to make. It is delicious served either hot or cold, so depending on how hot it is outside, you can give it a ring of change in the dish’s temperature too.

If you are looking for another recipe for a hot day, the recipe I submitted, cold beetroot and yoghurt soup, for the Guardian won the Reader’s Recipe Swap two weeks ago. Click here to see the full recipe.

Have a nice week guys! xo-A.

Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto

Note: This dish can be served either hot or cold.

Serves 2-3

200g frozen or fresh peas (podded weight)
1 medium sized leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 clove garlic, (new season’s garlic, if possible)
A small handful mint leaves (about 4g)
A large handful basil leaves (about 8g)
40ml olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
350g fusili
80g feta cheese, (I used goat’s feta but any feta would work well) to serve- optional

1. In a small saucepan, bring the lightly salted water to boil. Add the peas, sliced leek, and garlic. Boil for 1.5 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain well and add to the food processor. Add the herbs, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until roughly pureed. Set aside.
2. Bring a large saucepan with generously salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dante. Drain. Refresh under cold water, if serving cold. Stir in the pesto and serve with some feta cheese on top.

Jamaican Flower Gin&Tonic

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Summer is upon us. The warm breeze and the sun feels amazing on my skin when I ride my bike around the city. Whenever there is a heatwave, I keep a large pitcher of iced tea made with Jamaican flower tea, or also known as Hibiscus tea, and drink a glass or two when I feel worn out by the heat. This hot pink, wonderfully fragrant and sour tea made from dried Jamaican flowers is a great thirst-quencher, and it is known to bring the body temperature down. As it is Saturday, and the Champions League finale is about to happen in about an hour,  I made an alcoholic version. You will have about 230-250ml syrup from the recipe below, which you can mix with sparkling water and lime juice if you don’t feel like drinking alcohol. A small handful of mint muddled a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients for the cocktail would also be lovely.

Dried Jamaican Flower tea (Hibiscus)

Dried Jamaican Flower tea (Hibiscus)

Jamaican Flower Gin&Tonic

Note: Jamaican flower tea (hibiscus) can be easily bought at specialty tea shops. I bought mine at an organic supermarket in Leipzig called Biomare on Karli. 

For the syrup,

20g dried Jamaican flower (Hibiscus) tea

250ml water

100g sugar

20g ginger, peeled, and sliced thinly

For the cocktail (serves 1),

30ml or 2 Tbsp Jamaican flower syrup from above

30ml-40ml Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire. You can use whatever gin you prefer)

15ml or 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 slice lime

A handful of ice cubes

Tonic water (I like Schwepps, even though it sounds boring. I tried some expensive hipster tonic water but I can’t taste that much difference)

1. To make the syrup, bring the sugar, water, and ginger to boil, and wait until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add the Jamaican flower tea and remove from the heat. Let it steep for about 30-40 mins. Strain the syrup in a clean glass jar and chill in the fridge.

2. To make the cocktail, add the ice cubes in a tall glass. Add the syrup, lime juice, and gin. Top with tonic water and garnish with a sliced lime.