Cavatappi with Spinach Coriander pesto

We love watching MasterChef Australia and I love any cook show, seeking inspiration, new techniques and anything to feed my procrastination habit.

I don't understand my son's fascination with it though.  Unless, he is so starved for TV time he will watch anything?

MA has some things going for it; unlike American shows, the judges are not hypercritical and cold, George is a sweetheart!  He always tries to find a silver lining and comes up with ultra sappy rhymes.  Matt's foppish outfits are always amusing.  The contestants are generally supportive of each other, not nasty (again as opposed to most American cook shows).  I wish the contestants were a bit more stoic though,  they are definitely not Spartan.They frequently have a tip or technique I want to use NOW.  Season 3 seemed to feature a lot of pesto.

I have always bought pesto off the shelf, never really made it from scratch.  I looked up basic pesto and I found it is just a chutney of raw basil, pine nuts and some olive oil.  Basil is expensive in Chennai and my local shop has fresh basil coming in only on thursdays, so i decided to make do with whatever I found in my fridge - a bunch of spinach, a bunch of coriander and some dill.  A pure coriander pesto is a glorified thuvaiyal, my kids dislike dill in large quantities so it would have to be a combination of all three. I also hate to splurge on Pine nuts, buy local right?  I opted for a combination of pistachios, almonds and chironji for the nuts.  You see, here in the south we mostly stick to cashews and peanuts; I have sworn off non-organic cashews since the whole endosulfan scandal and organic cashews are too expensive. I don't know enough about chironji to make the pesto entirely out of chironji, so i decided to go for a combination of nuts.  I had a whole head of organic cauliflower and organic carrots in the fridge, cavatappi pasta and extra virgin olive oil in my pantry and Voila!  both lunch and lunch box ready!
A very poor picture of a very delicious pasta


  1. 1 bunch spinach
  2. 1/2 bunch coriander
  3. 2 tbspoon chopped coriander
  4. 2 tbspoon toasted pistachios
  5. 2 tbspoon toasted almonds
  6. 1 tbspoon chironji
  7. 2 tbspoon extra virgin olive oil
  8. 3 cloves of garlic


  1. 5 handful cavatappi  (4- 5 servings)
  2. 1 head cauliflower
  3. 2 medium carrot cut into matchsticks
  4. 1 large onion sliced
  5. 4 leeks (optional) cleaned and cut into matchsticks
  6. 2 cloves of garlic

  1. Soak the spinach in water and clean the dirt off the spinach, remove hard stems and air dry the spinach  in the colander.  Tear into smaller pieces.
  2. Cut the caulifower into florets.  Soak in warm salted water with a spoon of turmeric to bring out any worms.  Drain and rinse.
  3. Separate the white and green parts of the leek and wash out all the sand.  Chop into matchsticks air dry in colander.

  1. Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a wok.
  2. Add garlic and onion, saute on medium heat until softened.
  3. Add leeks and continue sauteeing for 5 more minutes
  4. Add carrots, caulifower, salt to taste, saute to mix everything thoroughly and cover the wok.
  5. Set water on the stove to cook the pasta
  6. While the water comes to boil, grind the spinach, garlic, nuts, coriander and basil in the small jar of a mixer, adding one handful of spinach at a time.
  7. When it looks like bright green goo, add the olive oil while the mixer is running  if possible, otherwise beat in by hand.
  8. Add salt, a teaspoon of oil to the boiling water and then the pasta.  Cook for the duration on the package
  9. Drain pasta, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and pour it into the wok.  Mix the pasta and the vegetables.
  10. Add the pesto and mix thoroughly and take the pasta off the stove.
  11. Garnish with cheese and/or olive oil.

My toddler demanded this for breakfast and lunch, my 9 year old loved it and wanted the leftovers for the next day's lunch.  My husband took it for lunch and ate the leftovers at night.
With the vegetables, pasta and pesto cooking parallely, I only took about 40 minutes to cook the whole thing. All in all a success i guess.

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