Saturday, 3 September 2011

Basil Pesto

I'm quite proud of my herb collection but basil is the one herb I always have difficulty with. It does quite well on a kitchen windowsill, but really, one would need a half a dozen plants at the very least. I tried to grow it late in the summer in my greenhouse, but I'm not sure how well it's really flourishing. So every Saturday morning at the Milk Market in Limerick, I get my weekly fix of basil from the experts who have giant poly tunnels and all that craic. I think it's quite a beautiful herb, I love it's clove perfume, even though it's in fact part of the mint family. I hasten to add, never be tempted to buy the perfectly shaped Parmesan from a supermarket.  I buy from a proper cheese monger and the flavour is incomparable, plus, there actually very little difference in the price. 

As summer draws to a close (yes, I know we never actually had one) I'm making pesto on a weekly basis and giving it to friends. I'm in pesto frenzy mode, as a pesto famine is imminent as we approach the winter months. It's so simple, and since I started making my own, and comparing it to some of the popular jared varieties, I realise that I've been missing out on proper pesto for so long. It's so simple and and joy to make. 

My ethos on classic recipes is I research the heck out of them, I might read up 6 or 8 recipes, and I'll do my own take based on what takes my fancy. That way, the element of originality keeps me feeling like I'm a legend in the kitchen. Clearly, I'm not, but confident cooking makes pretty sexy food.

If my kitchen was on fire, I'd grab this.
Magimix, the reason my knife skills are pitiful.
Makes 700g of Pesto (that's loads, so adjust the recipe as you see fit)
2 bunches of fresh basil (do NOT be tempted to use the stalks, they are yucky and bitter and will ruin the texture)
2 garlic cloves
small pack of pine nuts, lightly toasted on a dry pan.
Juice of a lemon
200g of good quality Parmesan, grated

I use my food processor for this, but you could just use a pestle and mortar. That would actually make fab pesto, as it would release beautiful oils from the basil. Blend up everything, drizzle the oil in and season with salt (not too much as the Parmesan would carry some) and freshly cracked pepper. 

See I told you it was easy.... 
Basil Pesto

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