The fragrance which wafts from the pan as this pesto comes into contact with the hot noodles and vegetables is mesmerising! The flavours in this dish are unmistakably Eastern so I tend to serve it with traditional Japanese noodles, such as udon, but wholemeal spaghetti works equally well.
The pesto is very versatile and can be used in all sorts of other dishes: with mixed roasted vegetables, dolloped into a soup, in a stir-fry, folded into warm couscous along with some nuts or seeds dried fruit - the possibilities are endless. And don’t be put off by the number of ingredients, this is a fairly quick and easy dish!
Noodles with Coriander, Cashew and Coconut Pesto
Serves 2 generously
For the vegetables:-
30 ml/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
125 g/4 ½ oz red onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 large red or yellow pepper, about 200 g/7 oz, seeded and cut into pieces about 1.5 cm square
100 g/4 oz button mushrooms
200 g/7 oz noodles
100 g/4 oz sugarsnap peas, trimmed
75 g/3 oz frozen peas, defrosted
25 g/1 oz roasted, salted cashew nuts
Fine sea or Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Coriander, Cashew and Coconut Pesto:-
150 ml/2/3 cup coconut cream (not coconut milk)
15 g/1/2 oz fresh coriander/cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small green chilli, halved and seeded (or leave in the seeds if you want more heat)
1 spring onion/scallion, coarsely chopped
100 ml/3 ½ oz toasted sesame oil
1 lime, juice only
100 g/4 oz roasted, salted cashews
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make the pesto while the vegetables are cooking. Place all the ingredients except the cashews and seasoning in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the cashews and whiz it up for a few more seconds, just to break down the cashews without losing their texture. Season to taste.
Cook the noodles in plenty of salted boiling water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the sugarsnap peas for the last three minutes, and then the peas right at the end. Drain it all well and return to the saucepan. Stir in the vegetable mixture and cashews, and then the pesto.
Season to taste and serve immediately.
And what about this dish’s nutritional talents? Peppers: antioxidants like carotenoids including lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, Vitamins A, B6 and particularly C, potassium, iron and manganese. Onions? A natural antibiotic, packed with polyphenols, flavonoids and sulphur compounds which may aid in cancer prevention and increase bone density, help to balance blood sugar and may even increase fertility. Garlic is powerfully antibacterial, protective of cardiovascular health and high blood pressure as well as the common cold, provides cancer support, regulates blood sugar levels, and its antioxidant properties may help combat dementia. Chillies? Vitamins A, B6, C and K1 as well as the antioxidant capsanthin, lutein for good eyesight, capsaicin for pain relief and possibly weight loss. Mushrooms are rich in selenium, a powerful antioxidant, as well as B vitamins, can help lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood pressure and circulation. So there you have it! Bon appétit!