Pesto maybe one of the simplest things to make, but it’s also one of the most useful ingredients to have in the fridge. It goes with pretty much everything and can be adapted easily this way or that. It’s also true to say that, given the cost of pine nuts, it’s cheaper to buy the ready made jarred stuff in the supermarkets, though I implore you not to. It can be stingy, poorly made, have the consistency and look of baby food and taste of nothing but cheapness; even the more expensive supermarket offerings aren’t much better. There’s a reason why artisan made pesto costs what it does, but you can make it yourself at home just as well. You can use a pestle and mortar but really, unless you have a strong arm, plenty of time and a mortar that’s about the size of a mixing bowl, its not worth it and won’t work very well; you’re best to use a blender.
Makes around 250ml
- 100g fresh basil
- 70g pine nuts
- Handful of grated parmesan
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Remove the basil leaves from their stalks and put them in the blender with 20g of the pine nuts.
Toast the remaining 50g of pine nuts in a hot dry frying pan. Remember to keep them moving as they will toast quickly and, if left standing, they burn very quickly. When they are taking on a nice golden colour and you’re getting that lovely toasted pine nut aroma, remove them from the pan and add them straight to the basil leaves.
Add the minced garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and the balsamic vinegar. Top this with the parmesan and a good glug of olive oil (about 75-100ml).
Now blitz until the ingredients are well combined; if its dry add some more oil and then blitz again. Keep doing this until it reaches a thick yet runny consistency, though you don’t want it too oily.
Once you have the consistency you want, taste and adjust the seasoning, as you require.
It will keep in the fridge for about a week; that is unless you’ve eaten it on everything you possibly can first.