Rocket, Walnut & Pecorino Pesto
My Bimby & Me
I’ve inherited a Bimby. The (now infamous) Monica has donated hers to me, as she says she never used it. I didn’t know what a Bimby was until I moved here.
Bimby is an institution. A cult even. I once dated a man who told me his ex-girlfriend had no other equipment in her kitchen. Just her and her Bimby. A Bimby is a sort of hyper-modern magimix indigenous to Italy. But really that’s a slight on Bimby’s name because Bimby is so much more than a magimix. Bimby looks like a mini rocket launcher and doesn’t just mix, blend or blitz. She cooks too. She kneads and whips and whisks and bakes and boils. You can make anything from lemon curd to custard to carrot soup in your magic little Bimby. She is so complex and ingenious that she comes with her own cookbooks.
I could measure out my life in mixers. The first magimix I ever had was one my mum had been given as a wedding present back in the 70’s which she’d then passed on to me. The mixer part was pale camel brown, and the base beige. It was the most 70’s thing I’d ever seen. I used it in London before driving it over in the car 2 years after I moved here. I’d been missing a mixer. The magi did not survive the journey well. By the time she got to me she was already battered and broken from years of my mum’s impatience and heavy-handedness (second only to my own). Her special mechanism for mixing when lid and base clicked closed had long gone, so instead she had an exposed black hole on her base (where previously the rod from the lid had penetrated) which we had to push with a pencil. A deafening and disconcerting roar began once pencil made contact. Making a cake – probably a Victoria sponge which mum always did in the magi - was far from a relaxing affair in my home.
So, already damaged she arrived in Italy thoroughly destroyed. A large chip out of her plastic base meant that her complex array of internal wires was exposed, multicoloured and tangled. Her UK plug needed a converter to slot into the Italian two-prong, the only one I could find came from the discount shop and fizzed and sparked as soon as she was plugged in. She was a hazard to herself and all those around her. I used her stoically, but I knew after a year of sparks and spats, with an imminent move on the horizon, it was time to wave goodbye.
So I arrived at Monica’s without a mixer. I got one of those little hand-held blenders for soups and things, but I missed a magi. The handheld ones only go so far.
Then, one day, as if by magic, Monica offered me her Bimby. It arrived in its own special backpack, with a zippy base thing full of leaflets and books, and a special zip down lid out of which she was to be carefully lifted. Out came the mini rocket, and on to the side she went, pride of place.
Admittedly it took me a while to get used to her. She has so many buttons its disconcerting (I also forget to mention that she weighs things as well). Relatively speaking I have only dipped a toe into Bimby-land, using her simply to blend or blitz. I don’t know if I’ll ever get more involved than that, but for now we rub along together just fine.
One of the things that the Bimby does extremely well is pesto. I have made pesto the mortar way (see this post) and it was lovely and atmospheric and in keeping with the history of pesto and all that, but now I have Bimby to do the hard work for me, plus the mortar left with Luca (hand in hand, they went, without a backward glance).
We’re in full pesto season, with the first big, boat-like leaves of basil appearing at the market, but rather than make the traditional version I wanted to do something a bit different. I had an enormous bunch of rocket to use.
Rocket makes a wonderfully punchy pesto, more bitter and bitey than basil, but delicious. I add walnuts, an underused nut, which underline the slight bitterness and add a thick, tooth-coating creaminess too. Lots of tangy, sweet-salty, aged pecorino helps balance it out.
A brilliant and bold plateful, fast and furious, even if you don’t belong to the cult of the Bimby.
A large handful of rocket (around 50g) stalkier bits removed
30g mature pecorino
50g toasted walnuts
1 small clove of garlic
Salt, start with a large pinch
80ml olive oil
4 tbsp water
Toast the walnuts lightly in a low oven (170 for around 11 minutes or so).
Add the cheese, garlic and salt (I don’t grate/crumble the cheese, the Bimby is so powerful she breaks them up herself, but if you have a normal blender break the cheese into manageable pieces to save the blades).
Pulse until you have an even rubble. Now add the rocket and pulse again until evenly green. Let down with the oil and water, then taste and season.
Boil the pasta in well salted water. Once al dente drain, reserving a little of the cooking water (about a ladle-full), and place over a low heat with the remaining water. Stir in the pesto and toss and stir well, cimmering gently, until everything is creamy and delicious.
Serve with a drizzle of extra oil, if you like.