Pesto is traditionally served as a pasta sauce, but it also makes a great dip or spread. Thinned out with a little extra oil, it’s fab drizzled over bruschetta or tomato soup.
Pesto is more versatile than you might think. Think of it as a sauce made with herbs, cheese and nuts and start making different combinations. Rocket, blue cheese and walnuts is one of my favourites.
A Note on Parsley: The parsley in this recipe is not traditional. It does fill an important function though. When basil is cut, it browns. If you leave it for a while, the mixture goes almost black. Vitamin C stops the reaction and parsley has a lot of vitamin C. A squeeze of lemon juice has a similar effect but adds acidity, which isn’t always desirable.
Serves: 4-6 as pasta sauce or dip. Prep: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 0 minutes.
Stores: For a couple of days in the fridge.
- 50 grams (or two small bags) fresh basil
- 1 small handful parsley (about 1 stalk)
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 50 grams vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese, or Pecorino
- 50 grams pine nuts
- 50-100 grams olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopping board
- Stick blender
- Roughly tea the basil in half and put in the stick blender with half the oil, the parsley and the garlic.
- Blitz until smooth, adding more oil if needed, and stopping to shake or wipe down the sides every now and again.
- Add the roughly chopped cheese and the pine nuts.
- Blitz until you have the desired consistency, adding oil for a looser sauce.
- Season to taste.
- Go goat: Goats cheese, spinach and almonds work well. Chuck in the zest of a lemon for a bit of brightness.
- Go blue: Rocket, blue cheese and walnuts make a rich and very nice pesto. Serve with fresh pasta and salad, and that’s all you need.