Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hey presto, pesto!

(This photo was taken when my daughter was just two years old, helping me to make the pesto in her fairy dress. Now almost six, she helped me again this week - she was wearing a flamenco dress. It's nice to know that the yearly tradition of making pesto together isn't the the only thing that hasn't changed.)

So much for my big list last week.

I was feeling a little better, but I was hardly home. However I did make more pesto.

Pesto, you ask? In winter! (well almost)

This is what happens when you neglect your vegetable patch and allow the summer basil seeds to dry on the plant and self sow. With the exception of the last two days, the weather here, has been very warm.

A happy little accident, perhaps?

I made 4 cups of pesto a couple of weeks ago and another 4 cups of pesto this week. It has hardly put a dint in my bumper crop. Most has gone in the freezer for later use. I love pesto as an alternative on pizza bases or mixed with extra cheese to make pesto bread (like garlic bread). Pesto makes a nice addition dolloped into vegetable and simple chicken soups and is perfect for turkish bread toasties of any kind on a cool day.

Here is my recipe. Actually it might be Jamie Oliver's, I can't remember. I have been making this pesto recipe since our very first vegetable patch, over 10 years ago.

This week I used blanched almonds instead of pine nuts, a more economical option when making bulk pesto.


makes 1 cup

• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 4 cups basil leaves (torn)
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

In a mortar and pestle (or food processor if you are making a larger quantity), combine the garlic, salt, pine nuts and half of the basil. Blend until well combined. Add the remaining basil leaves and mix well. Slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream until a paste starts to form. Stir in the cheese. If you are not using immediately, spoon the pesto into a jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil onto the top. This will stop the pesto from discolouring.

With so many basil leaves to use up I also made a salsa verde for our lunchtime barbecue last weekend. This recipe is another old favourite, very possibly, one of Jamie's too.

 Salsa Verde

• 1 handful flat leaf parsley
• 1 handful basil leaves
• 1 handful mint leaves
• 1 clove garlic (crushed)
• 1 tablespoon capers (rinsed if salted)
• 4 anchovies
• 1 lemon (juiced)
• 1 teaspoon djion mustard
• salt and pepper
• 100 ml extra virgin olive oil

In a mortar and pestal, pound together the herbs, garlic, capers and anchovies. Slowly add in the remaining ingredients until you get a thick green sauce. Serve immediately

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Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear what's happening in your kitchen. If you've tried one of my recipes, I'd like to know what you thought? Do you have some advice to make it better? Did you find a mistake? Perhaps it is a new favourite in your home?

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