Pesto and Poor Organisation Skills

Soundtrack: Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want the recipe: Some version of this pesto (more or less)

Star Rating: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m really behind on this whole ‘make one recipe a week and write about it’ project, but in my defence I have been pretty busy. Let’s just conveniently ignore the fact that the last time I actually wrote about a recipe I made was April 4th…

This weekend was my first full weekend at home since late July. I had grand plans to make this spinach and lemon polpette from Anna Jones, until I realised that parts of my blender were sitting next to my desk at work. Yes, at work.

This is not the first time, nor the first workplace, that my cooking tools have found their way to. I remember getting ready to cook 8 hour pulled pork in my tiny Sydney studio (or ‘The Pod’ as we affectionately called it) only to realise that the last time I’d made 8 hour pulled pork was at work and I’d never bothered to bring the massive pot home, because laziness.

This time a colleague had returned the various instruments I’d left at her place when I’d cooked her and her family dinner post-baby. None of the pieces are nearly as large as a stewing pot, but they are still sitting next to my desk, because laziness.

So when it dawned on me that I didn’t have the blade or bowl for my mini-blender, and I wouldn’t be able to blend almonds and other various things, I decided to put off this recipe until Monday night.

Of course, I only made this discovery after I’d been to the supermarket, so I did have a whole lot of fresh ingredients in my house. And after a glorious day of flying, then seeing Bohemian Rhapsody with friends, I returned home to finally watch ‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’.

Serendipitously, in the first episode (Salt) she shows a gorgeous Italian woman making pesto with a mortar and pestle. The six pesto ingredients (basil, garlic, hard cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, salt) were all in my house, and I have a mortar and pestle (for mostly decorative reasons), so ever the opportunist I saw this as a chance to quickly make up for lost time AND to have a delicious dinner.

For those of you who know me, you know that I can’t eat dairy. HOWEVER, I can eat limited amounts of goat and sheep cheese. I’d bought a chunk of pecorino, which is basically sheep parmesan, and it was also burning a hole in my fridge. This made this meal a real treat because I LOVE cheese. It just doesn’t love me.

I really enjoyed making this. It’s so easy – roughly chop the basil and put it in the mortar (I just had to look up which bit is which), add the oil and some salt, and crush with the pestle until it’s fairly broken down. This is kind of therapeutic, TBH.

Once it’s semi paste-like, add finely diced garlic and lightly toasted pine nuts and keep pummelling. Once you’re happy with the texture, add grated parmesan/pecorino and keep blending. Now you should taste to see whether you need any more salt or oil or garlic. The cheese will keep breaking down, so be conservative with your seasoning (I sound like I know what I’m doing, but totally stole this tip from the link above).

Cook your pasta until it’s al dente and rather than mixing with the pesto in the pan, put a few dollops of pesto in the bottom of the bowl and then add the pasta straight from the water using tongs. Mix thoroughly and keep adding pesto to taste. I also added a good squeeze of lemon juice and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

God this was good. So much so that I can’t believe I’ve never made pesto before! For something with so few ingredients, it’s very impressive and it’s probably the only time in recent history that I’ve licked the preparation bowl and I wasn’t baking.

I used some weird vegetable pasta that apparently has a bunch of servings of veggies in it which explains the really green pasta in my photos. I liked the earthy flavour, but it would obviously also be good with regular pasta or even better – fresh, homemade pasta.

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