Classic Pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but it is possible to adapt it using different herbs and nuts (pine nuts are extremely expensive!) In the spring, we make it with nettles, as the pesto is still at seedling stage in the greenhouse. A little bit further into spring and early summer, rocket makes another great basil substitute, producing a lovely earthy flavour. It is great with sunflower seeds or toasted walnuts too and breadcrumbs are a great addition to mellow strong flavours such as the rocket and nettle. Here is a lovely recipe using basil and parsley, but remember, if you’re making it, you can add what you like! It’s fun to experiment!
Blitz the solid ingredients together in a food processor until you get a paste. Then, with the motor running, slowly add the oil until you have a thick puree. Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.
Pick (or buy) yourself some delicious fresh green beans, boil them in lightly salted water until tender. Drain the beans and plunge them into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain them again and add to a big salad bowl, mix in your delicious pesto and garnish with toasted nuts or breadcrumbs for a bit of crunch and some halved cherry tomatoes. What a lovely, light, summery lunch!
Basil & Parsley Pesto (makes enough for bean salad for 4)
- 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 30g basil leaves
- 30g flat parsley leaves
- 1 chopped clove of garlic
- 35g Parmesan (or another hard Italian cheese – we use Grana Padano) finely grated
- Grated zest of half a lemon and a good squeeze of the juice
- 100-150ml olive (or sunflower) oil
- Salt & pepper