Pesto is typically Italian and can easily become a standard item in your fridge. It adds intense flavour and makes a simple meal delicious – pesto stirred through hot pasta, use topped on a baked potato or spread on fresh ciabatta. Traditionally made with pine nuts, we've used cashew nuts in our recipe.
60 - 70 g fresh basil leaves
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
30 - 50 g pine nuts, ground almonds or cashews, lightly toasted
60 g (120 ml) Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
125 ml olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Place basil, garlic, nuts, cheese and half of the oil in a food processor and blend. Once it starts to form a mixture, add rest of oil and blend until smooth. Season to taste and mix through. Spoon pesto into a sterilised glass jar, top with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.
Tips & variations
- Pesto will turn brown when exposed to air. To remedy this, you could blanch the basil leaves for 10 - 15 seconds in salted, boiling water until they turn bright green. Immediately submerge in ice water.
- If you have a lot of basil leaves, make a big batch of pesto and freeze what you're not going to use now.
- Use pesto in any of the following ways: On baked potatoes; mix with mayonnaise as a dressing for potato salad or a green salad; on a chicken salad; sandwiches or pizzas; add to Bulgarian yoghurt as a dip, serve with tomatoes, as a condiment with meat or chicken or just to add flavour to almost any other dish.
- For more of a twist, substitute basil leaves with coriander and mint leaves, or plain coriander or even some carrot fronds.
- Make a betroot pesto by replacing herbs with 1 cup of cooked betroot.