Thursday, 27 June 2013

This week: pesto!

I remember clearly the first time I ever made pesto from scratch. I was visiting my friend Evelyn on her year abroad in Sardinia and one night we decided we'd make our own pesto for dinner. It took ages, we kept adding a bit more of this, a bit more of that to get the consistency and taste right. In the end we got something pretty good, although I don't remember being blown away and it felt like a faff to make.

Fast forward a decade or so and I have been meaning to make my own pesto a lot recently. I have a basil plant with leaves aplenty, I have a food processor which I previously didn't have and I've been seeing lots of recipes lately with variations on the classic base of pine nuts and basil that have inspired me. Last night I went for it! I made a pesto using roasted hazelnuts, just because I happened to have a packet at home. I used a mix of parsley and basil, as a I had a big bag of parsley that needed using up. It was so quick and easy to make. It was very tasty and I'll definitely be doing it again and trying other nuts and other green stuff in place of basil too, like this rocket pesto.

Pesto is a pretty family-friendly sauce. Both my children love it. You can tailor it to your own preferences of taste, using whichever nuts or herbs you think your family will enjoy most. As well as serving on pasta, you can stir some into a risotto, put a few splodges onto pizza, serve over warm new potatoes or green beans or even use in a sandwich with something like tomato and avocado.

Here's a basic recipe you can follow in terms of quantity:
  • 100g nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil, almonds...) toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 200g basil or try parsley, rocket, some fresh chives or oregano
  • 100g grated parmesan
  • 250-300ml olive oil (or just follow your instinct with the oil to create the consistency you desire)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
Whizz up the nuts, basil and garlic with a generous tablespoon of oil in a food processor. Add more oil gradually to achieve a good consistency to your liking. Stir in the cheese. Add more oil if needed, followed by some lemon juice and season to taste.

Are you and your family fans of pesto? Do you make it yourself and do you have any recipe variations to share?
Link up your recipe of the week


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  2. Yummy! I love pesto and also have a basil plant with leaves desperately in need of use! I will definitely be trying this out :)

    1. Great that you have a basil plant on hand, no excuse then! ;-)

  3. I used to make pesto quite regularly when my daughter was a baby - she loved it! Now she's a fussy pants and husband and step son only like 'red pesto', like that Sacla muck (ugh). As it is, I obviously don't do parmesan any more, but I don't think it's reliant on it. Probably still delicious simply leaving it out! x

    1. I nearly included in the post that I have also tried a vegan version, omiting the cheese and it was just as delicious. I would definitely make it again! x


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