It’s been a little while since my last post, so I apologize to all of you for the long wait. I have actually been busy moving country, so I am now a proud resident of the Netherlands! The first thing I did when moving here was to scour out all the supermarkets in town. I was so excited to see all the new produce and products, but of course it has also meant not finding others. It hit home how challenging it can be to find certain products when you don’t live in such a metropolitan city such as London!
So in honour of simple ingredients, I have made one of the simplest yet most satisfying sauces which you can combine with almost anything. Homemade pesto. Why frozen you might ask? Well, call me a snob but I really don’t like shop bought pesto. It looks like it has been in that jar way too long, loosing its vibrant green colour and fresh taste along with it. So whenever I have the chance during the summer months, when basil is growing like wild, I buy a huge bag or many bunches and make a big batch of pesto. I then freeze it in ice cubes so that they defrost quickly. They are my go-to thing when I want something quick and easy to spruce pretty much any meal up. You can use them to dress up roasted vegetables, meat, fish, pasta, salads, or even crackers for a quick and healthy snack.
And fresh basil has so many health benefits on offer- why not take advantage of it? Basil’s pungent smell contributes to its antibacterial properties, which help fight the growth of certain harmful bacteria. It’s high in antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, C, iron, folate, calcium, magnesium and many more. Combine that with garlic and you’ve got a great immune boosting combo! Add some nuts to that, and, bravo! You’ve got your vitamin E requirements sorted. What more could you ask for?
I make my pesto with almonds, as pine nuts, although the traditional nuts in pesto, can be quite expensive. I also never follow a recipe, and just combine all ingredients, adjusting here and there after I taste some. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with pesto! But I will give you a guide to get you started:
RECIPE Serves: 1 small jar & 1 ice cube mould Total time: 10 minutes
¾ cup unsalted raw blanched almonds
4 cups fresh sweet basil (thai basil will not do here)
2 garlic cloves (or 1 large clove)
½ cup parmesan or pecorino cheese (freshly grated)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until fine. In the mean time wash and dry your basil. Place the basil (including the stems) and all the remaining ingredients into your food processor and pulse until you achieve a mostly smooth sauce. That’s your pesto done! You can then place some of the pesto into a jar and freeze the rest in ice cube moulds, or simply freeze all of it. But I can guarantee you’ll want to have some of it straight after making it! That fragrance is too hard to resist…
One little tip is to add some extra virgin olive oil on top of the pesto once in a jar as this will help prevent mould from forming. The top layer of your pesto will become a darker colour- this is normal and is perfectly safe to eat. With the layer of olive oil on top you can store your pesto in the fridge for between 2-4 weeks. In the freezer it will last for much longer, but will start to lose its fresh taste after about 3 months.
Great idea to freeze the pesto in ice trays. Sometimes I need only a few tablespoons and it is difficult to scrape out of a jar of frozen pesto. I’ve also made pesto from rocket/arugula when I had a lot in my garden. It is really yummy too and I guess full of minerals, folate and vitamins too.