I am a total pasta lover. For me, it is the epitome of comfort on a plate. It is a weekly staple in our house and almost always on a Monday night. This is for two reasons. After a celebratory weekend I feel the need for carbohydrates (even though Monday is always pronounced diet day after a generally indulgent weekend) and my Hubby works late on a Monday and pasta is the easiest and most microwave friendly meal for him to reheat. So, as it is an almost weekly staple, I require some variety. I am always racking my brain for something different and truth be told, I am yet to meet a pasta dish I haven’t liked. This Sun-dried Tomato & Rocket Pesto version was no exception and it just so happened I had too many mushrooms and a packet of Italian sausages in the fridge. Job done.

I used one of my all time favourite pasta shapes for this dish, Casarecce, but feel free to use whatever pasta you like. I just love how the little tubes fill up with all of the delicious pesto bits floating around in a sauce that is deliciously creamy without the use of cream. Yep, no cream. Just a good lug of starchy pasta water which results in a gloriously silky sauce. This stuff is like liquid gold, absolute genius…..

Prep time: 10 Minutes

Cooking time: 20 Minutes

$$ Medium Budget

Serves 4

Olive oil for frying

500gm of Casarecce pasta (or pasta of your choice)

1 cup of pasta water

6 Italian Pork & Fennel Sausages

4 large portobello mushrooms, diced

1 bag of baby rocket leaves

1/2 a bunch of basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 a cup of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips

1/4 cup of pine nuts

2 heaped tbs of grated parmesan

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 a cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea salt & Cracked Pepper

Basil leaves, toasted pine nuts & a squeeze of lemon to serve

Freshly grated parmesan and a drizzle of Extra Virgin to serve

To make the pesto, place two large handfuls of baby rocket, the basil leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice & a good sprinkling of sea salt and pepper in a food processor. Pour in half of the olive oil and blitz, adding more oil as needed until you have a nice fine paste.

Heat a large heavy based fry pan and add a little oil. Squeeze the sausages out of their casing and use a wooden spoon to break the sausage up, over a good amount of heat. This requires a little bit of elbow grease and as the sausage cooks it will become easier to break up but persevere and try to get it to a mince like consistency. Once the sausage is broken up, add the mushrooms and continue cooking over a high heat until golden.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta according to packet instructions. When the pasta is almost done, add three large tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato pesto and stir it through the sausage and mushrooms. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the liquid and pour it into the pan along with the remainder of the baby rocket. Stir until the rocket is just starting to wilt and then add the pasta, tossing to combine. I like to use two wooden spoons and really lift the pasta so that it becomes liberally coated in the pesto.

To serve, divide the pasta between four serving bowls and top with fresh parmesan, a good squeeze of lemon, torn basil leaves and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. I always finish my pasta with a good drizzling of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for added flavour and a beautiful shine.

Leftover pesto will keep in the fridge for about a week and will freeze for up to 2 months.