The first days of autumn have finally arrived. The heat is not over yet, but as the first heavy rains come down, everything breathes a sigh of relief…the parched trees drink deeply, the paddocks get their first flush of green, and I feel a just a little bit lighter, knowing that for today at least, there is respite from the threat of bushfire that is with us every summer.
In the veggie garden, the basil is getting long and leggy and little white flowers are bursting into blossom, reminding me that it is time to make pesto.
This recipe is easily multiplied depending on your harvest, and as I tend to cook with whatever is in my pantry at the time, I’ve found that it works well with pine nuts, macadamias or cashews. Or if you need to do a nut free version, as I do in my cooking classes with kids, you can use sunflower seeds instead.
If you’ve got loads of basil like me, you can do a big batch all at once, then portion it up and freeze it for a little taste of summer in the cooler months of the year.
100g fresh basil leaves (about 1 large bunch)
100g pine nuts (or cashews, macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds if you are wanting it nut-free)
2 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
100g finely grated parmesan
¾ cup olive oil
Juice from ½ a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread the nuts or sunflower seeds over a baking tray. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Place the nuts or seeds, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until it forms a rough paste.
Stir through the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.