Pesto

Have you noticed something different about the blog? I’ve made a few changes. Well, I say ‘I’, but that isn’t strictly true - Yeshen Venema, who I’ve been working with on this, has done all the clever stuff. I’ve moved to a new blogging platform and made a few changes to the layout, which I hope you like.

pesto recipe buttercup days

I wanted a cleaner more minimal look where the photography takes centre stage and I also wanted to add in a few extras that the reader might enjoy (check out the menu bar). I also took (for me) the rather bold move for removing and archiving half (two years) of my posts. They no longer sat right within the blog and the images were poor. It’s still a work in progress, so bear with me and keep your eyes peeled for some more subtle changes to come. Let me know what you think of it. 

Today, I’m going to share a recipe that I seem to make constantly in our house: Pesto. What is it about kids and pesto? It reigns number one on the all-time-best-dinners-ever list with both my children and, I know they’re not alone in their love for this green sauce. Together with some pasta, it can form a pretty speedy supper, which has some degree of goodness in it. Us adults like it too.

I make different variations of this pesto all the time - I often replace the basil with rocket or spinach and use other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts. Experiment with what you have to hand. It can be used for so much more than swirling through pasta; it’s great used on a pizza base instead of traditional tomato sauce or drizzled onto a savoury tart or salad. These images, which show the pesto stirred through some Courgetti, are from the cutting room floor from a shoot I did recently for Tesco.

It’s easy to pick up a jar of ready-made pesto in the supermarket, but making your own is really very easy and it tastes so much better. If you’ve never made pesto from scratch – I urge you to give it a go, you’ll never look back – plus this recipe can be whizzed up in less than 10 minutes too.

Pesto

½ clove garlic, chopped
sea salt
ground black pepper
1 bunch of basil (2 – 3 large handfuls), leaves picked
1 handful of pine nuts
1 handful of shelled pistachio nut, roughly chopped
1 handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon

Lightly toast the pine nuts and pistachios in a pan on a fairly low heat until just golden and fragrant.

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand blender. Add the toasted nuts to the mixture and pound again.

If using the pestle and mortar method, turn your pulverised garlic and basil out into a larger bowl before adding the Parmesan and a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Stir gently and drizzle in some olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.

Taste and season. Add more cheese, oil or lemon juice until you’re happy with it. Any leftover pesto, of which there will be some, can be decanted into a clean jar, leveled off and covered with a thin layer of olive oil and stored in the fridge.