Pesto – just hearing the word makes me hungry; takes me to Italy, to thoughts of parmesan, garlic and gorgeous bruschetta, stuffed ravioli and fresh pasta recipes. I think dip, I think bread sticks, I think green, healthy…. Really, I just want it! So when the thought hit me the other day I had to make it!
A family food – yes, my children love it (I put a little less garlic in when they are having it with us and sometimes dilute it slightly with cream cheese in pasta dishes) – and very versatile. Can be used for any occasion! I like it as a dip, often just eat it by the spoon (!), and sprinkled over ripe, red tomatoes. Some people add it to their soup…never tried…but not one to judge! It can be a simple dish but very much an extravagant one…never boring though!
It is, and I know I say this about most of what I cook, so easy to make. Ridiculously easy in fact. If you don’t believe me, try it!
I have made pesto this way since I was 13! My fabulous step mother, very good in a kitchen, taught me how to make it and I have never looked back! This makes enough to cover 500g pasta. Don’t worry about left overs! Keeps well in a jar in the fridge.50g pine nuts 50g parmesan cheese in small chunks 2 cloves of garlic – peeled – ( this is the child friendly version! Add more if you like!) A lot of basil….I love it….probably the equivalent of 1 large pot or two bags if you buy those Pinch of salt (be careful not to add too much as the parmesan is salty on its own – may even be omitted) Extra virgin olive oil…enough to make it smooth, but not so much that it covers everything. You will see what I mean as you pour it into the mix. Start slow – you can always add more later. I probably use about 120ml, give or take!
- Chuck all the ingredients, but only a glug (equivalent to about 1 tbsp) of the olive oil, into a food processor. If you do not have one, get one! :-) No, just kidding! If you don’t own any chopping machine you will have to do that bit of the job yourself, quite finely, and put it in a pestle and mortar. Squash away! Will be a softer pesto but the flavours will be there which is the most important. Or, just leave quite rough and ready. All good!
- Start the food processor, or your arm, and add olive oil in small quantities as it churns. The mixture will change from dry to wet – from lumpy to smoothish and from separate colours to a sea of green. Smell it! Stunning right? Basil….yum!
- When you think it is smooth enough – most people have a preference – stop the machinery or your arm! Stir a spoon through it. If it feels good you are done! If it feels or looks a bit dry, just add some more olive oil and stir through.
- Put it in a jar in your fridge and use as and when you feel the need to smile!
This is a really cute gift! Put a nice ribbon around your jar, maybe a hand written label, and give it as a housewarming gift with grissini (or posh breadsticks) as I call them!
Finally, make sure those around you have it too, especially your partner if you have one! Garlic is best when shared!!! If you have no idea what I am on about, try being in close proximity to someone who has had garlic when you have not….let me know how it was!