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Because in food I trust. In all forms and shapes. 

3 ways with pesto the besto

3 ways with pesto the besto

Every time, and I really mean every time, I say that when I make pesto, I have this scene from Friends in my head when Phoebe talks with this handsome chef who says: “Just made the pesto” to which she replies: “Is your pesto the besto?” Every time I give a spoonful of my new batch of pesto to my husband, I replay this in my head “Is your pesto the besto?” And I’ve been doing this10 years? I don't really know how that makes me look in the eyes of a therapist, but who cares.

I truly believe that every single person can make a very good pesto (the besto of course). It is such a simple paste/sauce (call it what you like) that requires such basic things – in the old days a pestle and mortar, today the same or a blender, and ingredients. Simple, basic ingredients but, as with every simple basic ingredient food, there is a fundamental but secret hidden ingredient – quality. That makes the difference. The fewer the ingredients, the better quality each ingredient must be (though, I truly believe that the same applies to every recipe we make). So if you have that – great, great cheese (I usually use good quality Grana Padano), good, fresh nuts (pine and cashew nuts will be good as will be almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios), excellent garlic (no Chinese rubbish), basil (just the leaves, stems will make the pesto bitter), and of course, the green gold – olive oil. We can, of course, discuss ingredient quantities, but being reasonable it is pretty simple, the same as the way you prepare it – nuts, garlic, basil, and some of the olive oil goes in first. Then more olive oil and pepper. Only at the end – grated cheese, followed by salt. That's it.

And the beauty of pesto (Italians – please don't kill me) is that actually you can mix different types of nuts and herbs, adding even pungent rucola, and the pesto will be divine.

Here are three versions that were created after harvesting basil and parsley from our garden.

Ingredients

basil pesto:
60 g pine nuts
10 g garlic, peeled and crushed
140 g basil leaves
190 ml mild extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
30 g hard cheese (Grana Padano or Parmesan), grated
sea salt to taste

parsley, basil, pistachio pesto:
70 g salted, shelled pistachios
15 g garlic, peeled and crushed
65 g basil leaves
35 g parsley leaves
160-180 ml mild extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon zest, finely grated
30 g hard cheese (Grana Padano or Parmesan), grated
sea salt to taste (remember that the pistachios are salted already)
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper to taste

parsley, almond, chilli pesto:
70 g almonds
15 g garlic, peeled and crushed
85 g parsley leaves
1/2 lemon zest, finely grated
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp fennel seeds
240 ml mild extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper to taste
¼-½ tsp pepperoncini flakes (depends on how hot they are and how hot you like your food)
30 g hard cheese (Grana Padano or Parmesan), grated
sea salt to taste

Prepare

Prepare all the pestos in the same way.

Place all the ingredients, except cheese and salt, in a blender and process on a slow/medium speed until you have a smooth sauce with some bigger bits of nuts. Add cheese and blend again until it is incorporated. Season with salt to your liking and mix once more.

Recipe and photos: Signe Meirane
Photos taken with Sony alpha 7s

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