Pesto–the nectar of the gods. I can’t get enough of this stuff. I learned to make pesto using the classic basil recipe but I also like to experiment with other greens like chives and most commonly, arugala (rocket) lettuce. It’s got a peppery nutty taste to it that gives the pesto a tangy zing. It’s fabulous with pasta but it also works as a great bread or cracker topping or a healthy dip for veggies.
The other nice twist to this recipe is the roasted garlic. Most pesto is made with raw garlic which I love but since I moved to the UK I got a lot of complaints about my use of raw garlic in hummus, pesto, tzatziki etc. A lot of my mates love my hummus but complain about 2 days of garlic breath. I don’t even think that’s a bad thing. It’s better than egg or tuna breath… Plus raw garlic is REALLY healthy for you! Anyways my boyfriend also claims that he gets headaches whenever I use raw garlic in my cooking and for a while I thought he was trying to piss me off but then I looked it up online and there’s actually some truth to it. So I guess he wasn’t just being a whiny little bitch.
So I mastered the art of roasting garlic and everyone is happy now.
Here’s how to make the pesto!
What you’ll need:
- One bag of arugula/rocket lettuce
- One small head of garlic
- One large lemon
- At least 1/4 cup of pine nuts (or sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc.)
- Some good olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
What to do:
About an hour before you want to make the pesto, cut the top off an entire head of garlic. Put the head into some tin foil, drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic up in a little foil package and roast in the oven for at least an hour, or until your entire home smells glorious. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
In a dry frying pan, toast the nuts lightly until golden and fragrant but not burnt.
Then, using a food processor or blender, throw in the arugula, the juice and zest from the lemon, grated cheese, the nuts, about 1/4 cup of olive oil, some salt and pepper. Gently squeeze the succulent garlic out of the bulbs, being careful not to let any of the peel get in there.
Blitz well. Then taste to see if you need more salt, or lemon juice or even olive oil. The first time I tried mine it was too liquidy (too much oil) so I added a few handfuls of baby spinach. That was a really good call.
Eventually I had a perfect pesto. Look at that gorgeous color!
Now go make some PASTA ASAP!!!!