Archive for the ‘Pinenuts’ Category

Pesto (Felicity Cloake)

July 23, 2018

Prep 20-25 min
Makes 1 small jar

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 pinch salt
250g fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove (optional)
25g parmesan
25g pecorino
300ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 Toast the nuts

Heat a frying pan on a medium flame, then toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and starting to colour. Pine nuts, especially the fat Italian kind, aren’t cheap, so many commercial pestos use cashews; pistachios or almonds also make decent substitutes. (Always taste pine nuts before use: they go rancid very quickly.) Tip out on to a plate and leave to cool completely.

2 Grate the cheese

Meanwhile, get everything else ready. Finely grate the cheese: parmesan and pecorino (I like a combination of the two: the former for its richness; the latter for its cleaner, saltier flavour) are the traditional choices in pesto’s Ligurian homeland, but many commercial pestos use cheaper grana padano; indeed, pretty much any very hard cheese will work.

3 Prep the basil

Pick the basil leaves until you have 250g: discard the stalks, because they discolour quickly and give an unpleasantly fibrous texture to the pesto. (This may seem extravagant, but pasta and pesto is still a pretty cheap meal, especially if you buy the basil in large bunches at a market or greengrocers, where it tends to be cheaper than the supermarket.)

4 Mortar v food processor

Choose your equipment: purists insist that pesto can be made only with a pestle and mortar, because the action is less violent than a food processor. There’s a surprising logic behind this – experiments show that more coarsely chopped basil retains more flavour – but you can still make great pesto in a machine, so long as you use it with care.

5 Start pounding (garlic optional)

Lightly crush the nuts with a pinch of salt, then gradually add the basil, pounding or pulsing just until you have a thick paste. Work as quickly as possible, so the basil retains its vibrant green colour, but be careful not to overwork it, especially if you’re using a food processor. You can also add a garlic clove, although I don’t.

6 Add the cheese and oil

Stir in the cheese, then gradually beat in the oil, keeping a little back for the top of the jar. Extra-virgin olive oil is the usual choice, but you need to exercise caution: some are so strongly peppery that they will overpower the basil, so taste before use. To keep costs down, mix with a neutral oil, as commercial manufacturers often do.

7 Leftovers

Pesto is best eaten fresh, but if you have any left over, spoon into a sterilised jar, then cover with olive oil to form a seal. It should keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, though always taste a little before adding it to anything. Alternatively, it freezes surprisingly well: ice-cube trays are a good receptacle for individual portions.

8 Traditional extras

To make classic Genovese pesto pasta, seek out trofie: these little twisted pasta pieces hold the sauce perfectly, but strozzapreti, linguine or any long pasta will also do. Boil in well-salted water and toss with the pesto, a handful of blanched green beans and some boiled, peeled and cubed waxy potatoes – a dash of pasta cooking water helps emulsify the sauce.

9 Variations

The word “pesto” comes from “pestare”, meaning to pound or crush, but what you choose to crush is up to you. Pesto alla Siciliana, or pesto rosso, is made with tomatoes, almonds and occasionally mint instead of basil; pesto alla Calabrese uses tomatoes, roast red peppers and ricotta. I often make a British version with wild garlic or parsley, walnuts and goat’s cheese.

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Pappardelle with basil, parsley, lemon and pine nuts (Nigel Slater)

November 14, 2015

Serves 4
for the dressing:
garlic 3 young cloves
basil 40g
pine nuts 50g
parmesan 50g, grated
parsley 20g
lemon 1
olive oil 5 tbsp

Dust the work surface or a wooden board with a fine layer of flour. Flatten the ball of dough (the basic or herb, above) slightly with the palm of your hand and start rolling. Using a light pasta pin, roll out the kneaded and rested dough as thinly as you dare. At the start of rolling, it is easiest if you roll with one hand and hold the dough in place with the other, without pressing too hard. Roll it into a rectangle as large as you can without it tearing.

Place the dough on top of a tea towel and leave to rest for about 20 minutes until slightly dry to the touch. Cut the dough into wide strips.

To make the dressing, peel the garlic cloves and drop into a mortar with a small pinch of salt flakes. Using the pestle, grind the garlic and salt until you have a thick and lumpy paste, then add the basil leaves (torn if very large), together with the pine nuts and grated parmesan. Pound with the pestle, pushing against the sides until you have a coarse paste.

Finely chop the parsley and stir into the basil paste. Squeeze the lemon, taking care to exclude the pips (if one gets into dressing, the result will be bitter) and stir in the juice, then slowly trickle in the olive oil, mixing to a wet paste. Taste, check the seasoning and set aside, covered with clingfilm.

To cook the pasta, get a deep pan of water on to boil and salt generously. With the water at a furious boil, lower in the ribbons of pasta, making sure they are not in clumps that could stick together. Stir once, then leave to cook for 4 minutes. When the pasta is tender, drain carefully into a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water. Stir a spoon or two of the hot water into the basil dressing then add the pasta and toss together gently.

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