I’ve had a relative glut of basil recently from a plant an old housemate left in the flat. Who knew that plants need plant food? Go figure. For me, fresh pesto was a revelation. I find the jarred stuff a bit artificial tasting, but fresh pesto has a real zing and next time, I’ll show you a simple, filling and healthy use for it.
Due to the exorbitant price of pine nuts, I did a little test this time and made half of the batch with walnuts. Personally, I didn’t think the walnut pesto was quite as nice but I would still make it again considering how much of a saving it is.
- 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves (you’d get this amount from one small supermarket plant)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you can use normal olive oil)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan (I use pecorino and freeze the remainder for next time)
- Strip your basil plant and thoroughly wash the leaves, shaking off as much excess water as possible.
- If using walnuts, chop either by hand or in a food processor.
- Put the basil, garlic and nuts in the processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- With the processor running, pour in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don’t process for too long, just until the oil is incorporated. If you’re using a hand-blender, don’t worry about having it running while pouring the oil.
- Season to taste, then stir in the cheese (unless you want to freeze it, in which case, just pop in a container and pour the remaining oil on top. I also think it would be okay to freeze with the cheese in it).
- If using immediately, stir through the remaining oil. If you’re going to store it in the fridge, put the pesto in a jar and pour the oil in a layer on top.
Here, the walnut’s on the left and pine nut’s on the right.