Category Archives: Preserves

Pesto

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.

Piccalilli

This is the classic English vegetable pickle and the recipe is courtesy of one of my favourite books, “Preserved” by Nick Sandler & Johnny Acton.   This and my sister Charlie’s tomato pickles are my two favourites. I use this combination of vegetables because its so colourful, but you could use almost any vegetable you liked.  It should always have cauliflower though.

You need to start it the day before, and you should make sure you’ve got enough jars before you start because you don’t want a mad jar hunt after you’ve already made the pickles, which I did once.  Half a dozen 375ml empty jars will be about right.

1.2 kilos vegetables cut into tiny, ie 1-2 cm pieces (I use cauliflower, red capsicum, corn cut off the cob, cucumber, carrot and a small onion.  Cauliflower should make up the most part of it)

2 tablespoons of salt

50g plain flour

1 tablespoon turmeric

50g mustard powder (in the spice section of supermarket)

½ white pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground (powdered) ginger

150 ml apple cider vinegar (from health food stores if not in supermarket)

5 tablespoons additional apple cider vinegar

250 ml malt vinegar

dash of water

Put the vegetables into a large bowl, add the salt, and mix through.  Cover with glad wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The salt will extract moisture from the vegetables so they will have a light crunch, and not turn soggy.

The next day, drain the salty water off the vegetables.  In a large saucepan that is not yet on the stove, place the flour and all the spices and mix with the 5 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to form a paste.  Gradually mix in the remainder of the cider vinegar. Tip in the veggies, then stir in the malt vinegar and the water.

Place on the stove and gently heat, cooking like this for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. You don’t want the temperature too high – below medium will be right.  And don’t cook for longer than 20 minutes because the veggies will go too soft.

Sterilise jars by boiling them then drying in a just warmed oven.  Spoon the pickles in and wipe any spills around the jar rim with a clean cloth then seal tightly with the lid.

The pickles can be eaten straight away.  They will keep in the refrigerator for six months but once opened they should be eaten within six weeks.

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