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!
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)
25g cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
25g parmesan, grated
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove
Salt & pepper
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.