Homemade pesto

Autumn, Recipes, Spring, Summer, Winter

Do you always buy pesto ready-made? Well, now’s the time to try making your own! This simple little sauce can transform so many dishes and it is the easiest, quickest thing to make. It is also far cheaper to make your own then buy it ready-made, plus you know there are no added nasties! This is a generic pesto recipe that you can adapt for whatever flavour you like, plus a number of ingredient/ flavour suggestions. My favourite for spring is wild garlic which packs quite a punch and is seriously delicious!

Pesto is of course great for dressing up pasta and gnocchi, but how about trying it in a fewother ways too:

  • Add a spoonful to an omelette for added flavour
  • Cover fillets of fish or meat before baking
  • Spread on pizza base instead of tomato sauce 
  • Use to stuff filo parcels or mushrooms, alongside cheese, olives or roasted vegetables

Generic Green Pesto recipe (vegetarian, vegan/plant based without the cheese, gluten free)
This makes about 80g which is approximately half of a standard shop bought jar (usually 150-200g), so should do a couple of meals. It keeps well in the fridge in a clean, sealed jar for a couple of weeks.
40g leaves (eg spinach, herbs, wild garlic, rocket)
2 tblsp olive oil
20g of nuts or seeds (eg pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, cashews or a mix)
Pinch of sea salt
Optional: 10g of grated parmesan cheese (I rarely add this as fresh pesto has so much flavour already)

Simply blend all the ingredients together; a hand blender works just fine.  Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge.

A few favourite combinations:

Wild Garlic Pesto for Spring
Wild garlic has an incredible flavour and this pesto is quite strong! You can use more spinach and less garlic for a milder flavour.

20g spinach
20g wild garlic
20g pine nuts
2 tblsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

 

Traditional basil pesto
Perfect on crostini with juicy tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella…
40g fresh basil leaves
20g pine nuts
2 tblsp olive oil
10g grated parmesan
Pinch of sea salt

 

Roasted vegetable pesto (best with summer produce)
This makes slightly more pesto than the green ones, although the vegetables loose water weight as you roast them – the amount depends on the vegetable and how much you cook them! (and yes, I know tomatoes are a fruit, but I’ve written vegetables for simplicity!)

100g roasted vegetables (eg tomatoes, red or yellow peppers, aubergine)
25g nuts or seeds
3 tblsp olive oil
Spoonful of fresh or dried herbs
Pinch of sea salt

Chop (small tomatoes can be left whole) and roast the vegetables first. Heat your oven to 200C. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil on a baking tray, place in the hot oven and turn it off. Leave in there for about an hour as the oven cools. When the vegetables are cool, blend with the other ingredients

Roasted Tomato Pesto: The perfect pizza topper
100g tomatoes (roasted as above)
25g walnuts
3 tblsp olive oil
A couple of sage leaves (fresh or dried)
Pinch of sea salt

Lemony Aubergine pesto
100g aubergine (roasted as above)
25g cashew nuts (soak in water whilst roasting the aubergine, then drain before blending)
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 garlic clove (roast with the aubergine)
3 tblsp olive oil