I love a good pesto. A red tomato or a green basil flavoured pesto. It can be based on a traditional recipe of olive oil, tomatoes (sun-dried/sun blushed tomatoes usually), lemon juice, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese or substitute basil/other greens for the tomatoes. Whilst pine nuts have become expensive to purchase other nutty ingredients can replace these.
Personally I usually leave out the cheese and it doesn’t compromise on taste, however parmesan does appear to be a traditional ingredient in Italian pesto recipes for instance.
Pesto can be used in the following ways and can really liven up a home cooked meal or make a hastily prepared meal (we all have busy lives) come alive;
- mixed into pasta
- spread on lovely sourdough or spelt bread/toast
- added to cooked scrambled eggs (see photo below – it was what I can only describe as a taste sensation)
- spread over a chicken breast roasting in the oven
- as an ingredient in stuffing for meat
- included as part of, or as a salad dressing on its own
- as a dip for veggies (cooked and raw crudités)
- mixed into a bulgur wheat/couscous dish if not gluten free or to a quinoa dish if gluten free
- Have I sold it to you yet? :-) ?
Here are my top 5 favourite pestos (always subject to change 😉 );
- Sun-dried or sun-blushed tomato pesto with mint
Iago in the English Market in Cork do a lovely pesto based on sun-dried tomatoes and mint. Make your own with tomatoes of choice, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, mint and seasoning of choice.
- Happy Pear
Ok this is shop bought but I think it’s high quality and worthy of a mention due to its excellent ingredients (not a drop of sunflower oil in sight). It can really liven up a bowl of pasta, spread on toast or use it in the mix for homemade turkey/lamb burgers, use it even as part of a salad meze. There is no excuse for boring salads anymore…
3. My new favourite pesto – although seasonal- thanks to the inspiration by TheFoodRemedy is
Wild Garlic Pesto
I made this delicious pesto by pulsing in the NutriBullet but a food processor would work just as well as the olive oil may be gradually drizzled in through the top attachment.
- 2 large handfuls Wild garlic
- 1 small handful mint leaves to taste (or substitute other herb)
- 1-2 cups pumpkin and sunflower seeds (toasted) I mixed due to shortage of pumpkin seeds
- 2/3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 lemon juiced
- sea salt & black pepper to taste
Toast the seeds first, be watchful as they burn fast!
Once cooled add to food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse. If using food processor drizzle oil in via that attachment. Or else add to NutriBullet with rest of ingredients and adjust amount as needed.
Store as appropriate to keep fresh but drizzle some olive oil over top to keep for longer.
Whilst I bought the wild garlic in a local farmers market, the Instagram account of ‘West Cork Garlic’ has many beautiful photos of wild garlic in the hedgerows and forests around Cork. Who knew we could get a source of such garlicky goodness from a local source.
4. Organic Bunalun dairy free pesto
– for those dairy free people, basil and extra virgin olive oil are the star ingredients..
5. Rocket/watercress pesto
I am putting this in as I once used up a nearly forgotten mixed bag of spinach, rocket and watercress and saved it from the fridge by whizzing it up with some garlic, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, juice of a lemon, sprinkle of sea salt & pepper. #Smugnessoverload after tasting… and it lasted- once transferred to a scrupulously clean jar with a drizzle of olive oil in the top – for almost a week.