Monday, 29 August 2011

Homemade Basil Pesto

Usually when I buy store bought herb pots they perform dismally and limp to their death in a few weeks, no matter how much I tend them.

Recently I bought a pot of basil that thrived and turned into a bush - it must like my kitchen windowsill.  It grew so well that I decided that I might just have enough leaves to make some pesto.  A first for me.  I found a recipe in Delicious Magazine which suited the amount of basil I had.


  1. 1 small garlic clove
  2. Pinch of sea salt
  3. 25g pine nuts, very lightly toasted
  4. 50g fresh basil leaves (this is the amount of picked leaves you get from a large pot from the supermarket)
  5. 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  6. Juice of ½ lemon
  7. 125ml extra-virgin olive oil


    METHOD 1

    1. In a small food processor
    2. Put the garlic and a pinch of sea salt in the bowl and pulse, then add the pine nuts and pulse again until roughly chopped (be careful not to over-process). Add the basil and pulse carefully until it is well mixed but still very textured. Turn into a bowl and stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice. Pour in the olive oil, mixing to a juicy paste. Season to taste.

    METHOD 2

    1. In a pestle and mortar
    2. Put the garlic and sea salt in a mortar and pound with the pestle until smooth. Add the pine nuts and pound until they are roughly crushed. Add the basil and continue to pound and mash, bruising the leaves, until it starts to form a paste. Turn into a bowl and stir through the Parmesan and lemon juice. Pour in the oil and mix to a juicy paste, seasoning as you go.

    Chef's tip

    To use:

    1. As well as stirring it into pasta, add a teaspoonful to a bowl of minestrone soup for an instant flavour boost.

    2. Spread onto griddled bruschetta and top with fresh ricotta for a tasty starter.

    3. Slather over chicken breasts or a piece of white fish, wrap in prosciutto and bake for a simple supper.

    4. When cooking mussels, add a couple of teaspoons to the broth.

    5. Stir into crème fraîche or mascarpone and use as a dip with spring veg.

    6. It’s perfect with simple antipasti such as mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto and crusty bread.

    7. Stir it into mashed potato for a great flavour.

    To store:  Put the pesto in a sterilised jar and cover the surface of the pesto with a layer of olive oil. Top with a lid or cling film and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

    To freeze: Leave out the Parmesan, spoon into ice-cube trays and open-freeze. Tip into freezer bags and keep frozen for up to 3 months. To use, defrost the required amount and stir through some Parmesan.
    I used the food processor method and this is the result:

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