Monday, April 30, 2012

Last of the herbs

My gourmet daughter asked for some herbs from my garden recently. Now, my vege garden is in limbo at the moment. Dead ol' stuff has been removed (well, some of it) and new beds are being prepared. I didn't think I had much to give...but I was mistaken.
There was masses of basil, so I decided to make some Pesto. "Should be easy," I think. Jamie makes a three course meal in 30 minutes, Martha makes gourmet meals within seconds..."I just have to get organised!"
Well an hour and a half later,  and MASSES of washing up, I ended up with just under two jars of pesto. It was quite delicious but, THE EFFORT!

I have included the recipe below, I eventually opted for Jamie Oliver's  version. Jamie's method was a little vague, along with my daggy photos, are my comments and method. My pesto didn't turn out as bright green and moist looking as Jamie's, but it was still pretty damn good.


• ½ a clove of garlic, chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped
• a handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted
• a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• extra virgin olive oil
• a small squeeze of lemon juice
MAKES ONE JAR (I doubled it)


Wash the basil. I found all manner of critters in mine, and whilst they had a meaty, flavorsome note to the palate, I think they are better left out. I also spun the leaves in a salad spinner.
Jamie says, "the really good pestos I’ve tasted in Italy just have them very lightly toasted, to give a creaminess rather than a nuttiness." I did as he said. I had to watch pretty closely, I nearly burnt them.
Jamie says:" Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor". I used a food processor. Add the pine nuts to the mixture.  My mixture turned quite a bilious green. Maybe because it is late in the season for basil? 
 Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil . Now Jamie says "You need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency." BUT I found that I had to add an awful lot of olive oil. It seemed like a couple of cupfuls...I  kid you not. The end result was not as oozy looking as Jamie's, but I just couldn't bear myself to put in ANOTHER cup of olive oil!
Jamie says: Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it’s not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer. Personally, I don't get the tasting. After a couple of tastes they all merge, and I really don't know what I am supposed to be tasting for.
I use my lovely red jam funnel to fill my glass jars. I was trying to be all "Martha" and sourced some labels to stick on the jars from here, but they didn't turn out very well. As you can see, the colour of my pesto isn't the same as in the shops. I couldn't find a pen, or a pencil, so ended up writing 'pesto' is daggy texta. It took me ages  to wash the dishes. (we don't have a dishwasher) Anyhoo, my daughter lurved the pesto, which is all that matters, but is it just all this effort simply too much effort?


  1. I love basil and I love pesto but no-one else here does (they like basil fresh on toms, but not pesto) that, and the fact that its been four weeks(!) since we've had a kitchen bench top, stove etc is going to stop me from trying out your recipe. The good news is our new (well parts of it are) kitchen will have a dishwasher (hooray!) although that too has been sat in the middle of our kitchen for over four weeks! Mocking me!
    Anyway enough on cooking and doing the dishes, I just wanted to say Nick, that I've been reading some of your old posts (circa 2010) they are wonderful. I didn't know you were such a prolific blogger back then...they are a real treat to read. No bull. And I wish you still blogged more regularly. x

  2. I really fancy this, but like Kylie I'm not sure that the rest of my family is mad keen on it. I'd recommend a toasted sandwich of roast chicken, melted cheese and pesto - seriously good. Mind you, I completely see where you're coming from re the effort involved - I made marmalade a couple of months ago (in vast quantities) and it's so ridiculously time consuming - washing, chopping, juicing, boiling, straining, re-boiling, jarring, realising it's not set properly and re-boiling...oh my god...

    I hope you're feeling loads better now. x

  3. I decided to make jars of tomato and chilli chutney one year to hand out as gifts along with a cheese board and wine. Flipping nightmare. Messy,very expensive on vinegar, stinky kitchen and very little feedback from those who received it (so I didn't know if it was worth the effort).
    At least you know it tastes good!
    Don't even ask about the time I made hummus, disaster! Not having a dishwasher really adds time and labour to things like this, bet Jamie hasn't washed.up.for years!




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