I have always loved pesto ever since my teens when one day my sister cooked us up a batch of pasta with lashings of pesto mixed
into it. Both store bought but the flavour and almost immediate satisfaction that filled our bellies after just 15 minutes cooking time has always left the classic pesto and pasta combination as a staple in my household. I have always enjoyed the taste of store bought pesto but nothing can beat a fresh pesto made from scratch. It’s flavour is always lighter and fresher tasting, pairing brilliantly with more then just a simple pasta dish. I often make pesto for the start of the week as a go to dressing for quick meals when I’m busy. It can be a little expensive to make your own pesto as you need quite alot of fresh herbs but there is a solution. I use lettuce to bulk the pesto out yet it doesn’t detract from the flavour as I still uses the herbs plus all the other classic ingredients. It is the perfect way to use up salad leaves which are often one of the most thrown away items in British households and you know how I hate waste!
Ingredients to make a small jar: 1 good handful of fresh herbs,2 good handfuls of salad leaves, 2 large handful of nuts or seeds, A small lump of hard cheese, 2 garlic cloves, 2tbsp of olive oil plus extra for jar. sprinkle of salt and pepper.
1. I have given these vague ingredients as you can pretty much choose whatever combination of items you want. A classic pesto is basil, pine nuts and parmesan but you can adapt it with anything. Here are some ideas
Mint/parsley, almonds, mature chedder
Coriander, cashews, manchego , abit of chilli and ginger
Dill, sunflower seeds, pecorino
3. Add to a jar, press down with a spoon and cover with a layer of olive oil. It should keep for 1 week, topping up with oil to cover if you use a little at a time. (My oil looks horrible in this photo, it has no colour weirdly. That’s what you get for cheap olive oil)
You can add pesto to loads of different dishes other then pasta, here is a few and please feel free to add your own uses in the comments.
Dolloped on pizza either as a replacement to a tomato sauce or as an addition blobbed on randomly
Mixed into potato salad
On top of a baked potato
A sandwich filling with some fresh salad veggies (tomato, pesto and mozzarella sounds good)
A salad dressing, mixed with some more oilve oil and a little lemon juice or vinegar
A crust or rub for fish or meats