In a soup or a risotto, with meats and fish, vegetables, raw and cooked, and yes, of course: pasta – this amazing sauce is always a win and once you realise how easy it is to make it yourself, you’ll love it even more.
Classic basil pesto
3 big handfuls of basil leaves
a handful of pine nuts
2 gloves of garlic
a handful of parmesan cheese
1 cup of olive oil
Put the basil leaves, the pine nuts (you can dry-roast them in a pan for more flavour), the garlic and 1/2 cup of olive oil into a food processor and blend until smooth. You can adjust the texture by gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend again. Finally add the parmesan and stir well together with a spoon. You can use the food processor to mix the parmesan with the pesto but by using a spoon you get a nicer, more authentic texture. Finally season the pesto with salt if needed.
Use rocket or bear leek (wild garlic) instead of basil if you’re looking for a change of flavour.
Sometimes we like to use a stone mortar and a pestle rather than a food processor to make our pesto. It may be a bit messier especially if you’re new to the mortar and pestle business but you also get a different, more rustic texture – making all the effort put into smashing the ingredients together totally worth while.
Actually, using a mortar and a pestle is the traditional way to prepare a pesto – which also explains its name derived from the Italian word for crushing and pounding: pestare.
Walnut parsley pesto
2 big handfuls of walnuts
a bunch of parsley leaves
one large clove of garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil
salt & pepper
Put walnuts, garlic, fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped, 1/2 cup of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice into a food processor and blend until your pesto has the texture you’re looking for. Add a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese, give it another whizz and taste. Season with pepper. If necessary, add a pinch of salt. If the pesto is too thick, add also a splash of oil.
You can swap walnuts for roasted pumpkin seeds or raw cashew nuts.
When buying parsley, always choose flat leaf over curly parsley. The curly leaves may look fancier but it’s the flat leaf parsley that brings more flavour to your dish.