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!
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.
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.
Penne with Thai Pesto, Sautéed Tofu, and Chinese Chives
- 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
- Put all ingredients except the canola oil into a mini food processor.
- 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
- Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat until hot.
- Add tofu and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, turn heat down to medium.
- Add Chinese chives, ground coriander, salt, and white pepper.
- Cook until chives are wilted and tofu is lightly golden, adding water to the pan if it becomes too dry.
- 1- 1.3 cups uncooked penne pasta (more for 2 servings)
- 2 L water
- 1 heaping tablespoon salt
- Bring water and salt to a rolling boil in a medium pan.
- Add pasta and cook until soft but still firm.
- Drain and mix with pesto (there may be some pesto leftover depending on how much pasta you used)
- Top with sauteed tofu and Chinese chives.