As the sun finally seems to be visiting us with more frequency this summer, I thought I'd share this pesto recipe that I got the inspiration for from some funky little pestos at a farmers' market. When I find them again, I'll stock up but making my own will keep me going and allow for experimentation. I love basil, pine nuts and parmesan but something new is always fun!
I decided to stick some flavours in a processor and see what happened. I don't really have quantities to share but you know the consistency of a jar of pesto so try to recreate that, adding more oil to allow it to mix but leaving some small pieces of herbs, nuts, cheese so it's not a completely smooth paste. You'll need a sterilised (washed in hot water and placed in a low oven for half an hour) jar or two. And pesto should keep a couple for weeks if you make sure the contents have a layer of oil over them, which you can always drain before using.
I used a standard sized bunch of mint, a little bit of sage, a handful of toasted hazelnuts, a piece of manchego the size of maybe two matchboxes, a small glug of cider vinegar and a large slug of rapeseed oil. Whack it all in a food processor and let the magic happen.
I would really encourage you to play around with different flavours – different cheeses and nuts, maybe even different oils and some fresh herbs. Just use the same principle you would use in other cooking – for for British flavours consider kale, apples, walnuts, hazelnuts, strong cheeses. For Italian try basil or oregano, rich sundried tomatoes, parmesan, taleggio, olives. For Moroccan, try buying some ras-el-hanout spice mix, or use cumin and dried coriander with apricots, fresh coriander, pine nuts. For Spanish try some smoked paprika, roasted peppers, almonds, manchego …. you get the gist. Or mix it up. Use seeds if you prefer. Rapeseed oil is lovely and nutty and along with olive oil, is the healthy favourite. But a little sesame or groundnut may bring out any nutty flavour further.
Maybe it won't strictly end up a 'pesto'. Does that matter? A tasty stir through for salad, especially those that use those tasty grains I've mentioned before on here will give you something to look forward to at lunchtime. Yes, there are fats (oils and cheese) but you don't need much cheese and you won't use an awful lot of pesto. I wouldn't recommend it for dressing leaves – it's more for mixing with beans and pulses, grains, radishes, peas etc.
Try this fabulous recipe from the delightful Bon Appetit website. They use collards but spring greens or kale would work....