Another quick recipe for you all today – and one that is so simple and so straightforward, I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often. Fresh basil pesto.
Pesto is one of those sauces that in my opinion works with nearly everything, not just pasta! With it’s robust and fresh flavour, I use pesto with fish, like this salmon and pesto recipe, I mix it in with my salads, and have it as an accompaniment to grilled meat. It is in fact so good, I find it very hard to refrain myself from not eating it by the spoonful directly from the jar (don’t tell anyone!).
There are many ways to make pesto, but the most traditional way is to use basil, pine nuts, parmesan and a good olive oil. If you are going to be really traditional you should make pesto by using pestle and mortar, as you should bruise and pound the ingredients together, rather than chop them together. In fact the word Pesto is derived from the Italian word ‘pestare’ meaning to pound or crush, and according to trusty wikipedia, the word ‘pestare’ is also the root for the word pestle! A little bit of trivia for you ;)
Although I do like traditions – I am also a fan of making my life easier in the kitchen, which is why I liked this recipe from Jaime Oliver as it is a bit of a hybrid of modernity meets tradition. Half the sauce (the grunt work) is made in the food processor, and the other half is stirred in slowly by hand.
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (see note below)
- sea salt, to taste
- 3 large handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 handful of pinenuts (very lightly toasted)
- 1 large handful of parmesan cheese, finely grated
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Pulse the garlic, salt and basil leaves in the food processor, until chopped up.
Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pulse again until everything is blended
Pour the mixture into a bowl and add half the parmesan cheese. Stir gently and add the olive oil. You need just enough to bind the sauce and get an ‘ozzy’ consistency (according to Jamie).
Keep on adding a bit more cheese or more oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency.
Season with salt and although not essential, add a squeeze of lemon at the end to brighten the sauce if so desired.
Note on the garlic: Pesto is one of those sauce, whose flavour continue to meld together in the fridge, so one clove is really enough, you don’t want the garlic to be too overpowering.