My Valentine’s day recipe idea for all pasta lovers is farfalle coated in zesty, chunky black garlic pesto, served with peppery arugula and a shy dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano. Easy, homemade, tasty and very much customisable to his and hers liking thanks to optional choices of popular toppings!
This recipe was brought to you with love, by Balsajo Black Garlic, all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
It’s less than two weeks before Valentine’s day and if you haven’t thought of booking dinner out by now it means you’re most likely staying in. I’m personally very much a “staying in on Valentine’s day” type of person and simply enjoying a quiet evening in with my wonderfully charming, illustrious and exceptionally modest (he said to put it in, while helping me with a grammar issue in this paragraph! So I did!!! Love you Mr T. ! x) partner.
At times like this it is only right to make things delicious and a little planning could work to your advantage.
No worries, there’s plenty of time for that. In fact, my idea of a date night in pasta can be easily put together on the day. Just make sure you get yourself a few heads of black garlic ahead of time to avoid last minute stress.
Black garlic pesto – made with fresh herbs, love & black garlic
How does it taste?
If you enjoy a gentle hint of garlic, but don’t want garlic breath, choosing black garlic is the way to go. Black garlic pesto is intriguing enough to make it a great talking point and delicious enough to make the evening a culinary success.
Black Garlic – the domineering ingredient – has a wonderful, umami hinting, rich flavour, loved by many chefs, and dishes containing black garlic are often paired with fine wines. You can read more about this amazing ingredient in this article.
The key is to make your black garlic pesto fresh
If you’ve never made pesto at home, you’re in for a pleasant surprise and an amazing treat. This is also what makes today’s recipe so very special. Please, don’t take shortcuts by adding black garlic to a shop bought, jarred pesto. Make it fresh, with love and care – it’s meant to be special! Pesto from a jar will just never ever cut it and it is simply because herbs taste best when fresh and there is no way around it! To make it perfect:
Make it with a pestle and mortar if you can
You see, there is a certain dose of love and artistry in making sure black garlic pesto has that perfect consistency and texture. Most regular pesto recipes will tolerate all ingredients being pulsed or whizzed in a food processor, but if you do that with black garlic pesto ingredients you’ll end up with an unappetising looking black mud.
You want to have full control over the way the ingredients are brought together, to what degree they infuse the oil and how much flavour gets reserved in the chunky bits. It is the subtle imperfections of chunky bits that makes it taste so good, that bonus of delayed sensation and flavours bursting into life with every bite.
If you’re short on time though, you can do a part of the job in a food processor, but mix the chopped black garlic in by hand at the end!
- 200g farfalle pasta, or other pasta of your choice
- 80g baby arugula
- 10 Balsajo Black Garlic cloves (20g), peeled & quartered
- 50g basil leaves, chopped finely
- 30g mint leaves, chopped finely
- 1 raw garlic clove, minced
- 40g pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan over a low heat until golden brown (mix them often)
- 2 tablespoons (about ½ lemon) lemon juice
- 20g finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano is ok instead)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, plus more to serve
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chives, chopped
- Fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Black garlic cloves, halved
- Place finely chopped basil and mint in a mortar together with salt, pepper, minced raw garlic and lemon juice and give it a good bash, until herbs are completely limp and covered in the juices.
- Add pine nuts, smash them roughly, but don’t turn them into a paste. Some chunky bits are perfect.
- Put your pestle away and using a spoon, mix in oil, cheese and black garlic until just combined. Reserve. (Store refrigerated, but remove from the fridge early enough so that the pesto comes to room temperature before you toss it with hot pasta.)
- Set the pasta to boil as per instructions on packaging. When ready, drain and toss your steaming pasta with pesto and baby arugula. Plate up and scatter serving garnishes over.
Date night pasta with homemade black garlic pesto – additional toppings
Firstly, know that you can confidently serve your pasta with black garlic pesto just as it is. It is delicious, rich and pleasing on its own. Some Parmesan maybe and mint leaves over the ready dish will create a wonderful and sophisticated addition to this truly delicious dish.
Black garlic pesto comes with mint and a healthy dose of lemon juice to balance the richness and eathiness of the black garlic. Think of it as a grounding force, which can comfortably take on moderate amounts of other rich flavours like seafood, or smoky prosciutto, bacon, smoked or unsmoked chorizo, but don’t forget about the lighter additions of fresh, almost raw vegetables.
Tomato, olives, bell peppers…? All of the usual suspects will do a great job! I quite like mushrooms & prosciutto or tomato & shrimp.
Topping options below serve two. If you’re creating 2 different plates, make sure to half the amount of each, individual topping option.
- 24 olives (for two servings)
Toss your steaming pasta coated in pesto with olives and baby arugula. Plate up and scatter serving garnishes over.
- 30 prawns, knob of butter, 24 grape or cherry tomatoes, 100g prosciutto (all for two servings)
Melt butter in a pan set over medium heat, add seafood, sprinkle of salt and sizzle until fully cooked. Turn the heat off, add tomatoes into the pan and coat them in the pan juices. Pour your steaming pasta coated in pesto into a bowl, add seafood and tomatoes from the pan, toss it again; mix in arugula and scatter prosciutto. Plate up and scatter serving garnishes over.
- 200g mushrooms like Porcini or Portobello, knob of butter, 100g prosciutto (all for two servings)
Melt butter in a pan set over medium heat, add chopped mushrooms, sprinkle of salt and cook until mushrooms are lightly browned. Turn the heat off. Pour your pasta coated in pesto into a bowl, add mushrooms from the pan, toss it together; mix in arugula and scatter prosciutto. Plate up and scatter serving garnishes over.
- 80g chorizo, chopped into corn size pieces & 1 medium bell pepper, cored, deseeded and chopped into thin strips (all for two servings)
Place finely chopped chorizo and bell pepper into a pan set over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes until chorizo starts to brown. Turn the heat off. Pour your pasta coated in pesto into a bowl, add chorizo and bell pepper from the pan, toss it together; mix in arugula. Plate up and scatter serving garnishes over.
Any room for a dessert? Try my amazing, buttery, home-made chocolate dipping sauce – ready in 5 minutes!!!
Check out my other pesto recipes if you fancy something more traditional.