Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hey pesto!

The other day R asked if she could have 'hey pesto' for dinner. Hey what? 'Hey pesto pasta' (I was not even aware she knew the term 'hey presto', but K is into magic tricks so perhaps she has heard him say it. Either that or she learned it from a Disney movie, like everything else she knows).

So last night the three pesto-lovers in the house had our first homegrown 'hey pesto' of the season, and now I feel like it's really summer. Our entire last summer's crop was used for pesto, and this season's will go the same way too, because if there are other uses for large bunches of basil I have not yet discovered them.

My pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan and is a wonderfully quick dish to make when it's late and I don't have the energy for anything complicated (which, sadly, is the case just about every night of the week). I make it by picking off the basil leaves (being careful to remove the odd caterpillar here and there), washing them and blending with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a small handful of pine nuts (raw, I don't bother toasting them). Then I add a finely chopped clove or two of garlic and about 1/4 cup of finely grated parmesan. I also like to put in a generous teaspoonful of chilli - usually sambal oelek, but fresh chilli is good too. Once the pasta is cooked and drained I return it to the pot, put in the pesto and toss to coat, sometimes adding a tiny bit of water or oil to thin it out. And - hey pesto! It's done.

If you like basil but have never made pesto, give it a go - it's so easy. To give an idea of how much basil to use, when I'm not using home-grown I find a whole supermarket bunch of basil is sufficient for a 500g packet of pasta.

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