I only started using pesto after marriage and used to buy ready made jars. It was a convenient thing to do, as at the time I was on an interior design course on Tuesday evenings, so that was a pasta day 🙂 . It used to be a chore to find the vegetarian version of this classic Italian dish. Then about three or four years back I had bought a basil plant for the kitchen window sill and it had produces so many basil leaves, so I thought I should venture into making my own pesto. It was successful and so simple to make that I decided I would buy a basil plant each Spring and make my own pesto.
From looking at various TV chefs and other recipes, as well as a friend (who lives in Italy) telling me that I do not need to add cheese or pine nuts (as they are so expensive), just normal salted nuts are fine – I started making my own version as below. To make it more creamy I sometimes use almond, cashew, and pistachios nuts powder.
There are many uses for pesto, not only as a pasta sauce but also as a dressing for salads, for adding flavour to soups, a spread for sandwiches and roasted mushroom or eggplant. You can also create many different versions like I did by adding the sun-dried tomatoes. Other herbs and vegetables can also be added to give it an extra added flavour.
Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Pesto
I keep sun-dried tomatoes without the oil, if you have that then that is fine to use, you can even use the oil from it to give the pesto an extra tangy flavour. The pesto will store well in the fridge for 3 weeks and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 10mins Makes: about 1 cup
2 cups basil leaves roughly torn
1 cup sun-dried tomato (about 12) soaked in hot water for 10 mins
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1) Boil some water and place the sun-dried tomatoes in 1 cup water, set aside. Pick the basil leaves, wash and tear them roughly and place in a blender.
2) Drain the sundried tomatoes and put in the blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend to a smooth paste, taste for salt and lemon juice, add if required. Hey presto your pesto is ready to be served as needed 😀