Friday, September 4, 2015

Pesto alla Genovese





For the last couple of years I have nurtured several basil plants so I can make at least a couple of jars of pesto in late summer. My attempts to sow basil from seed have been rather dismal, so instead I buy young plants which, if planted outdoors and watered well, and not picked to within an inch of their lives, will quickly develop into much larger bushes boasting plenty of deliciously scented leaves. The flavour and aroma of home made pesto puts all the bought ones in the shade. Made in a blender it takes 5 minutes flat. That doesn't include picking the leaves off the stalks, but I guess there are worse jobs for a sunny morning. You will feel more Italian if you use the traditional (harder) method and pound it all up in a pestle and mortar, but your wrist won't thank you. This is the method Antonio Carluccio prefers for his version.

Recipes vary greatly and there are 3 ingredients that are considered non-negotiable. Basil, cheese and olive oil. Whether you add garlic and pine nuts is a matter of taste. I add both. I can't imagine it without garlic and the bashed up pine nuts give the sauce more texture.


The health benefits may not be as well known as it's culinary uses but this article gives us some of the mind/body benefits from clearing up breakouts to detoxing the liver.









BASIL PESTO

50g basil leaves (try to pick fresh green ones, in the morning if possible)

1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (better quality will give better flavour)
25g Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated

Start by toasting the pine nuts in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Watch them like a hawk. If you turn your back they will burn into little black bullets. A couple of minutes should be enough to lightly brown them.


Pack the leaves, pine nuts, garlic and a pinch of salt into a blender and then pour over the olive oil. Blend with caution, using the pulse button if there is one. Don't over process or you'll end up with green slime. You may need to poke the leaves down from time to time or add a glug more olive oil to get a sauce like consistency.


Scrape into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Spoon into a sterilised jar and seal with a little more oil. Refrigerate and top up the oil after every use.


That's it. Done!






5 DELICIOUS WAYS WITH PESTO




1.Cheese and pesto bread

You can never make enough




2.Pesto marinaded prawns

Gently heat through on the bbq or grill pan




3.Toasted sandwich

Cheese, ham, tomato, pesto. What could be better?




5.Pizza Margarita

Little dollops make a big difference





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