Pesto is an Italian herb sauce that makes use of fresh basil and olive oil along with a few other ingredients and is simple to make even for someone like me, who can’t cook to save their lives. It can be kept in the fridge and can be used to make a huge range of different dishes. It is also simple to make pesto and here is a great recipe.
How to make Pesto
- ½ clove garlic, chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 large handfuls of fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 handful pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 large handful Parmesan cheese, grated
- Extra virgin olive oil
- (optional) squeeze of lemon juice
Take the garlic, basil and salt and put it into a food processor or powerful blender, blending it. Add the pine nuts and repeat the process before turning the mixture out into a bowl. Mix in the parmesan and gently stir in the olive oil so that the mixture binds together but isn’t too wet. You can add salt and pepper to taste and any of the ingredients as you wish to get it to the taste you prefer.
Once you have made your fresh pesto, there is no end to the different recipes you can use it in. Here are a few ideas to get you started
Pesto is often served with pasta and there is something ideal about the combination. Why not simmer a portion of heavy cream with pesto added to taste until it is thickened then add grated Parmesan and your favourite pasta, such as tortellini? To balance out the naughtiness of the cream sauce, add steamed broccoli or another favourite vegetable.
Another traditional use of pesto is alongside gnocchi, the Italian potato balls. Simply toss the gnocchi with three tablespoons of pesto and 1 tablespoon of softened butter then add to a baking dish, sprinkling with grated pecorino and grilling until the cheese is brown.
Adding to potatoes is another way to utilise the flavours of pesto. Make up some pesto butter by mixing pesto with warmed butter then add to cooked sweet potatoes for a tasty filling. Alternatively, add the pesto butter to grilled or steamed corn and sprinkle with Parmesan to finish.
- As a dip
A very simple use for pesto for a party is to use is as a dip with breadsticks. Simply combine two tablespoons of pesto with 300 grams of light soft cheese and add to a dip dish, sprinkling with pine nuts if you like. Take some breadsticks and wrap a little prosciutto around the top of each for a perfect dipping partner.
- In a sandwich
My personal favourite is adding pesto to a sandwich or bread. Take some ciabatta bread, toast it then add some soft cheese, sliced tomato and drizzle with pesto for a classic Italian snack. Or add the pesto to bread opposite some sliced chicken, ham and mozzarella before toasting for a warm alternative.