This month for Jac from Tinned Tomatoes‘ Pasta Please food bloggers challenge, hosted by Jen from Blue Kitchen bakes, we are tasked with the challenge of making our own pesto. I hadn’t planned on making pesto this month so when I did my big food shop in town a few days ago I hadn’t picked up any of the key ingredients. Namely, there is no fresh basil or pine nuts to be found in my kitchen this month! Initially I thought I’d have to opt out of this month’s challenge, but I went browsing for recipe ideas in my cookbook collection anyway, out of curiosity.
I’d been lucky enough to win The Cook’s Herb Garden book by Jeff Cox and Marie-Pierre Moine (2010) in Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge last year and in it there is a single page on pesto. On that page it says, “You can make pestos with other fresh herbs, such as parsley and coriander, and you can replace the pine nuts with fresh skinned walnuts.” Can you!?, thought I. HHrrrm… and that got me thinking. On my last supermarket trip, which was very late at night after an incident involving me ballroom dancing by myself on top of a parked car (true story and perfectly legal!) I managed to pick up some fresh herbs at a very reduced price. 13 p for some gorgeously fragrant fresh rosemary and 13 p for some fresh parsley! I had also picked up some walnuts, so I set to recipe developing.
I had a quick browse of the Internet but I didn’t fancy anything I saw there, so I thought I would tweak my last homemade pesto creation (seaweed pesto) with the ingredients I had on hand. The pesto was an absolute success. I admit to having apprehensions as I was making it since it was using completely different ingredients than a traditional pesto, but when I took the first tip of the spoon taste test – wow! I couldn’t wait for dinner!
I made some fresh pasta to accompany the pesto for the children and for the grown-ups I tried a new recipe I’d been eyeing up for years, the fantastically named Baked Wild Bear’s Garlic Ravioli, from A. Vogel’s Naturally Fresh & Delicious cookery book (2009). The ravioli is filled with a mixture of spinach, ricotta, shallot, grated carrot, Parmesan cheese and a whopping 50 grams of sliced fresh garlic. No bears were involved. However, despite the ingredients list it was tasteless. It was pretty but fairly bland and I won’t be making it again. I really didn’t like the texture of the baked pasta either – why not just save the effort of making homemade pasta and just make pastry instead? Ach well, I can now cross that recipe off my to-do list.
The pesto, on the other hand, I will definitely be making again. It’s a much cheaper option than traditional basil and pine nut pesto too.
- 55 grams walnuts, shelled
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 130 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 60 grams Grana Padano cheese, finely grated
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- pinch of sea salt
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4-6