Garden herb and Bacon Pasta

This is a useful way of putting a use to the stalky bits of green leafy plants like spinach or silverbeet that bolt and go to seed. Just cut the stalky bit off and chop it up as finely as you can, together with some of the larger leaves and their stems, and this becomes the basis of the herb pesto as below.

2-3 cups chopped up spinach stalk and leaves.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced.
½ cup shelled walnuts, chopped.
½ cup grated strong cheese e.g. cheddar or parmesan.
¾ cup olive oil.
Salt to taste.
3 cups dried short pasta, e.g. spirals.
A little more olive oil.
1 cup diced bacon.
1 cup chopped fresh herbs e.g. parsley, basil, origanum, spring onion.
Freshly ground black pepper.

Place the chopped stalks, garlic, walnuts, cheese, oil and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric kitchen wand, zap the ingredients into an even green pesto. Cover and leave in a cool place for 2-3 hours to allow flavours to combine. It can also be frozen for later use.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook as per the instructions on the pack. While the pasta is cooking, heat a little more oil in a sauté pan and quickly fry the bacon. Reduce the heat and add the fresh herbs and the pepper. Stir fry until wilted – no more than a minute or so – then drain the pasta and reserve some of the cooking water.
Stir the pasta and green pesto into the pan with the bacon and herbs and mix well. Add some of the cooking water a little at a time to enable a sauce to form and to ensure that it adheres to the pasta. Continue to add water until the desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately on hot plates.

Serves: 2.

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