Pesto would have to be one of the greatest things in life, and fantastic for flavouring so many things – pizzas, roast meats and vegetables, toasted sandwiches, dips… Pesto pasta is a great way to feed a large amount of people. I make my pesto with walnuts, as I like to get as many Omega 3 fatty acids into my young son as possible. But by all means, use the more traditional pine nuts if that’s what you prefer. Grow your own basil in summer and taste the difference – its so fresh and amazing. Pesto freezes well, so put any leftovers in the freezer and you have a quick, 10 minute meal on hand. Store unused pesto in the fridge with a drizzle of olive oil over the top to stop it browning. Fresh pesto will keep for a week or two like this.
1 bunch basil leaves, washed and spun or patted dry
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
50 grams parmesan cheese, broken into small chunks
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
Put the walnuts, garlic and cheese into a food processor, drizzle in a little of the olive oil and process until grainy. Add the basil leaves, and process while drizzling in the remainder of the oil with the motor running. You will probably have to stop once or twice and scrape down the sides. Add the salt and lemon juice, and process once more. (My sister and her husband use a little preserved lemon rind instead of lemon juice, which is also great).
If you are making pasta with pesto, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain, do not rinse, and tip back into the pot. While the pasta is still very hot, stir through sufficient enough pesto to coat. The heat from the pasta will cook the pesto just enough. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, and serve topped with grated parmesan.
My top pesto tip: Toast pieces of good quality sourdough bread, spread with pesto and soft goat cheese, and top with sun ripened tomatoes and a few rocket leaves. Perfection.
Variation: If you don’t have a lot of basil, you can throw in some rocket to pad out your pesto. Indeed, you can make it all rocket, but then I wouldn’t call it pesto.