How to make fresh green pesto
If you've never tasted homemade pesto you're in for a treat. It's so vividly green, fresh and intensely flavoured - far better than the tubs you can buy in supermarkets (never mind a jar). The recipe is quite expensive but it makes a lot and a little goes a long way. And with basil in season now is the best time to make it.
What you need is a big bunch of fresh basil, ideally from a veg shop or market stall or Italian deli. Don't skimp on that or it's not worth making
And you'll need a food processor unless you have a pestle and mortar and are prepared to pound it by hand in true Italian-style . . .
Serves (hard to say - depends what you use it for - see below but I'd say about 8)
Time: 5-6 minutes (quick, huh?)
Cost: about £5
50g mature parmesan with the rind removed
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
2 large handfuls of fresh basil leaves (strip off the stalks and use them for soup)
75ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice
Crumble the parmesan, breaking it up with a knife if necessary, and tip it into a food processor. Add the pinenuts and garlic and pulse in short bursts until the mixture is the consistency of large breadcrumbs. Add the basil leaves and process briefly then gradually add the olive oil through the feeder tube until you have a thick paste. Tip it into a bowl and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice plus a little salt and a little more olive oil if you think it needs it. (Parmesan is quite salty to start with.)
How to use pesto:
* Stirred into pasta on its own or with lightly cooked green veggies like courgettes, broccoli or green beans (add a little of the pasta cooking water too)
* as a crust for grilled or baked white fish fillets, salmon or chicken
* in a sarnie - particularly good with roasted veggies, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, chicken or - for a treat - steak
* as a relish with chicken, burgers, steak . . .
You could also use it for this easy recipe on my Frugal Cook blog