Tasty pesto morsels
My mum’s greenhouse is a veritable jungle of green at the moment. There is a peach tree, a small hedge of tomato plants and numerous other pots of things growing here and there, including some basil plants. I went in yesterday to see what I could see, and two of the basil plants had grown over-enthusiastically and were starting to go to seed. Emergency action was required: I took a pair of scissors, hacked the tops of them and made pesto.
Pesto is great. I heard Jamie Oliver describe it – rather aptly – as “the viagara of the culinary world” because you can add it to something tasty and make it intensely extra-specially amazingly tasty; such as minestrone soup, risotto, or a pasta sauce. I’ve got a recipe where you stuff chicken breasts with pesto and mozzarella cheese, wrap them in prosciutto ham and bake them. That’s pretty good too; maybe I’ll put it on here sometime. Today I decided to just make something simple, to put my pesto in the spotlight. Using some of the many many tomatoes which I found in the greenhouse alongside the basil, I made some of these. Tasty Pesto Morsels.
Many recipes for pesto tell you to pound the basil leaves whole with the pestle and mortar but my brother Rob, who is something of a pesto expert, believes you get better results if you chop the basil before then grinding in the mortar and I’m inclined to agree with him. I added some parsley this time which gives it a fresh flavour and a more vibrant green colour. You could change the proportions of basil and parsley as you wish, even make it 100% parsley which is a nice alternative. Most of you probably don’t need a recipe for pesto, but here it is anyway. A pestle and mortar is the best thing for job I reckon – a nice heavy granite one – but a blender is a reasonable substitute. If you find yourself without either of these, as I did on holiday recently, then chop the basil extra fine and mash everything in a large mug with a fork. It’ll come out chunky but it doesn’t matter; ’tis nice to vary things.
Tasty pesto morsels recipe
Don’t worry too much about quantities, it doesn’t need to be exact. Take one or two cloves of garlic, two large handfuls of basil and/or parsley leaves, chop, and put into your mortar. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper and a splash of olive oil. Pound until you have a coarse pulp. Now add a small handful of pine nuts or almonds, and a handful of grated parmesan cheese. Keep pounding until you have a nice consistency, adding more olive oil if need be. Keep tasting and adjust the quantities of nuts, cheese and oil as you see fit. To make the morsels, slice some ripe cherry tomatoes, break up some bits of ryvita and arrange with the pesto as shown.