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Monday, 31 October 2011


There are some things at which the consumer packaged goods industry is infinitely better than a home cook. For instance, I would never try to make my own cola and the potato chips I’ve made just never measure up to those of Mr. Pringle. However, pesto is one of those items where the homemade version is so much better that it may as well be a completely different food.

Where the store bought versions of pesto are dark, oily and taste mostly of garlic and salt, the homemade version is a brilliant green and tastes more light and vegetal. If you can manage to successfully grow basil at home (as I did for the first time this year) then pesto is the perfect way to address the grocery bag full of basil leaves that you’re left with at the end of the season. Freeze it in small batches in air tight containers and it will keep its brilliant colour all winter long.

3 cups fresh basil leaves
⅔ cup grated parmesan
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 cloves of garlic diced

Put the pine nuts into a food processor and pulse until they are roughly chopped. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the oil into a food processor and pulse while adding in the oil through the feeder tube until the ingredients are all mixed and the basil is finely chopped but not pureed.

Remove from the food processor and put in ziplock bags or other air tight containers to prevent the basil from oxidizing and turning brown. If you expect it to sit out for a bit before eating, squeeze in a teaspoon or so of lemon juice as the ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) in it will help to slow the oxidation process. Otherwise, freeze immediately in small quantities (icecube trays are ideal for this) so you can just pop them in to a bowl of pasta or atop some roasting tomatoes.

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