|My two huge basil plants have passed their prime and are fast approaching the herbal version of their ‘twilight years’. I couldn’t think of a better way to preserve their leaves than making pesto.
The original recipe from my first cookbook is simple and delicious, so I used that.
Genoa, Northern Italy, is the home of the famous Pasta Pesto alla Genovese – pasta with a pungent sauce called pesto, made primarily of fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts.
Pine nuts are quite expensive at the moment, and the glut of cheaper Chinese pine nuts I find to have a turpentine flavour. So I decided to use half-and-half toasted unblanched almonds and toasted brazil nuts – about a scant cup in total (not all the nuts in the photo above!) – which I ground to a rough crumbly powder.
I grated 250g Grana Padano without any calf rennet (from the local kosher deli).
Three ever-so-tightly-packed cups of basil leaves (that whole bowl full above) and 2 teaspoons Himalayan saltalong with a cup of extra-virgin olive oil and a scant teaspoon yellow asafetida heated in a little olive oil rounded out the recipe.
I macerated it all in my food processor, and spooned it into 3 jars. It’s great on toast, stirred into hearty minestrones, or folded through pasta trenette or linguine. Oh, by the way, it freezes well.
The day after I finished making the pesto, I received a gift of first-class organic olive oil in the post. So I picked more leaves and made another batch this morning. I’ve got quite a stock now. Pesto ahoy!