Basil Pesto

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I adore growing my own herbs, and cooking with them most of all.  So when my basil plant needed a major haircut…it was time to make pesto.

Basil grows easily from seed if you keep it nice and warm, a kitchen windowsill is ideal and, if you carefully harvest the leaves, the plants will keep on giving for a long time, especially if you give them a feed.  Just don’t overwater.  They don’t like having wet feet!

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This particular plant was bought from my local supermarket, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s much cheaper to buy the whole plant and just give it a little care, than to buy the packets of cut basil which generally end up lingering in the salad drawer until well past their best.  Keeping 2 plants at the same time will guarantee you a pretty constant supply of basil.  One large established plant gave me enough for this recipe and will quickly regrow.

For some reason I don’t seem to be able to eat pine nuts, I’m not sure why (maybe somebody can shed some light). I wouldn’t say it’s an allergy, but they make me quite poorly even though I love eating them.  For that reason I use cashew nuts in my pesto.  I can eat cashews by the sack load!!  Feel free to substitute the cashews for pine nuts, a combination of both or even  walnuts.

There really is no comparison between homemade pesto and shop bought. Once you make your own you’ll never go back.

Makes 1 small jar (double the ingredients if required, it does go a long way though and the fresher the better)

Ingredients

25g cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

40g basil

25g parmesan, grated

75ml olive oil

1 garlic clove

Salt & pepper

Method

The proper way to make pesto is by using a large pestle and mortar and beginning by pulverising the garlic clove with a pinch of salt.  Next add the nuts and basil and grind to a rough paste before working in the olive oil.  Add a little water if you prefer a looser consistency and keep going until you have the desired texture.  Make sure to season well with salt and pepper.

I’m really lazy, and so I just bung all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a reasonably smooth sauce.

Fresh pesto is incredibly good with pasta but also great mixed into dips, on homemade pizza, grilled meat and fish, baked into bread or even on a sandwich. Try and switch it up a bit to get the most out of a homemade batch.

K x

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