Penne with Thai Pesto, Sautéed Tofu and Chinese Chives

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It’s lunch time, I wanted to make a tofu curry, but I had no rice to go with it. Not wanting to wait for rice to cook, I rummaged through the cupboards to find some penne pasta. Aha, now I have carbs! I thought. What goes with pasta? My eyes landed on the package of Thai basil in the fridge, which got me thinking about… pesto! I could make a Thai pesto!

Thai pesto: roasted peanuts, basil, Chinese chives, bird's eye chilies, fish sauce.
Thai pesto: roasted peanuts, basil, Chinese chives, bird’s eye chilies, fish sauce, canola oil, and lime juice.

So I begun concocting the recipe. Thai basil was a given. I wanted to add garlic, but I had none. So I substituted Chinese chives, an authentic Thai ingredient which has a similar spicy kick. In place of pine nuts, I used roasted peanuts. A couple of seeded bird’s eye chilies went in for some heat. Fish sauce added saltiness and umami (kind of like Parmesan cheese, it’s a bit of a stretch, but bear with me here). Lime juice replaced lemon juice, that was a no brainer.

Pulse everything together until well-mixed.
Pulse everything together until well-mixed.

This pesto is so good that I ate it straight out of a spoon. Other more culinarily inspired uses could include: as a dressing for vermicelli salads, as a sauce for Thai-inspired ravioli, or as a topping for baked fish/ poultry.

Coat the pasta with the delicious pesto.
Coat the pasta with the delicious pesto.
I added some sauteed Chinese chives and firm tofu for a more well-balanced meal.
I finished the pasta with some sauteed Chinese chives and firm tofu for a more well-balanced meal.

Penne with Thai Pesto, Sautéed Tofu, and Chinese Chives

Serves: 1-2

Pesto Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup Chinese chives, cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 bird’s eye chilies, seeds removed
  • 1- 1.5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-4 tablespoons canola oil

Pesto Method

  1. Put all ingredients except the canola oil into a mini food processor.
  2. Pulse, streaming in enough canola oil to make the mixture a thick paste.

Tofu & Chinese Chives Ingredients 

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup extra firm tofu, 1 cm cubes
  • 1.5 cups raw Chinese chives, 1 inch segments
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp water

Tofu & Chinese Chives Method 

  1. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat until hot.
  2. Add tofu and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, turn heat down to medium.
  3. Add Chinese chives, ground coriander, salt, and white pepper.
  4. Cook until chives are wilted and tofu is lightly golden, adding water to the pan if it becomes too dry.

Pasta Ingredients 

  • 1- 1.3 cups uncooked penne pasta (more for 2 servings)
  • 2 L water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon salt

Pasta Method

  1. Bring water and salt to a rolling boil in a medium pan.
  2. Add pasta and cook until soft but still firm.
  3. Drain and mix with pesto (there may be some pesto leftover depending on how much pasta you used)
  4. Top with sauteed tofu and Chinese chives.

 

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Is it Thai or Italian? Both? Neither? Regardless, it’s delicious!
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3 thoughts on “Penne with Thai Pesto, Sautéed Tofu and Chinese Chives

      1. Yeah, I know to sweeten up the flavor, a bit, peanuts is used…
        Almond nut is something I love too 🙂

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