I call this “pot luck” pesto because you can make it with whatever herb you have growing in your garden, from the traditional basil to rocket and sage.
It couldn’t be easier – just whizz it up in the food processor and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Fresh herbs (the traditional pesto is just basil, but I like mixed rocket and basil pesto, or the addition of any of the following: sage, thyme, parsley, oregano)
Good quality olive oil
Chilli oil (optional)
Nuts (the traditional pesto uses pine nuts, but I have also used toasted almonds, chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds all to good effect!)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
The instruction below are for basil, rocket and almond pesto:
Step 1 – Leaves
Wash and then spin your choice of leaves – you can use as many as your garden can spare, but you want to half-fill your food processor bowl more or less.
Step 2 – Nuts
Put a handful of the nuts that you want to use in a frying pan at medium head – if you are using almonds like me here then cook until they begin to brown and crack, if you are using pine nuts until they begin to brown. Keep your nuts moving in the pan or they’ll burn! If you are using walnuts they can skip the heating phase and go in raw.
Step 3 – Food processor
Rough chop your nuts and parmesan cheese, then add it to your food processor with your leaves and some salt and pepper. Add a slug of olive oil, pulse your machine, then continue adding olive oil and pulsing until you have the right consistency – it should be moist but not runny. I like to add a little slug of chilli oil to give it a small kick, but this is up to you. You can keep pulsing if you like it fine cut, I prefer the texture of my pesto to be a little chunky.
Step 4 – Store your pesto
Transfer your pesto into some tupperware or sterilised. It is better to minimise the surface area that your pesto will have in contact with the air to keep it fresh for longer. Smooth over the surface of your pesto with a spoon, and drizzle a little oil on top to stop the pesto from oxidising and going a dark colour. Every time you use some, repeat this process.
- Fry up a some onion, mushroom, courgette, pea – or any veggies that you fancy – and serve with pasta, a dollop of pesto and a few tablespoons of single or double cream. Top with parmesan.
- Toast small slices or chunks of decent bread, spread a thin layer of pesto and serve as an anti-pasty or fancy party snack
- Add a teaspoon to red pepper or tomato soup and give it a swirl