It’s funny how one becomes so accustomed to their kitchen gadgets. Ever since I bought my new food processor I’ve been whizzing up pestos, breadcrumbs and pastry with only hint of appreciation for how easy it is and not a thought for how I would do it otherwise. When I cook in my mothers gorgeous kitchen I realise how spoiled I’ve been- or perhaps it’s how lazy I’ve become as a cook. Mum asked me how easy my biscotti recipe was and I replied oh, it’s so easy! but then on second thought I replied well…. if you have a kitchen aid it’s easy. Mum doesn’t have these crazy gadgets in her kitchen. Microplane? What would I need one of those for? Chef’s knife? If I had one of those it would disappear in the garden with your father.
She probably burns a lot more calories than I do working in that kitchen.
I have a tendency to forget that other people’s kitchens are not as equipped as mine, which leads to me having a bit of a tantrum. When I arrived at my parents home last weekend I was excited about what herbs my father would be growing in the garden. Oh, the day when I can have a herb garden. I certainly won’t be growing lemongrass just because it looks pretty!
It was the rows of basil standing to attention that caught my eye. How could it not? It was looking as though it might take over the entire garden soon- clearly, it was only the tomatoes that the squirrels were interested in. Nothing like a bounty of basil as an opportunity to make pesto. Really, I ought to do something about it before it eats the nearby roses.
I set to work, plucking basil leaves. I had not set to thinking about how I might come to whiz them so fine that you’d want to toss them in your spaghetti. In fact it wasn’t until I marched inside with an overflowing colander of leaves that it suddenly dawned on me that pulverizing them might pose me a wee problem.
I did what I do most skillfully in the kitchen- I rummaged. Ah ha! Victory! A mini processor was discovered and brushed of its dust and year old lining of breadcrumbs. Only, it turned out to be a piece of junk- one speed, one direction and one whiz would turn off the kitchen lights. This was going to be a slow and tedious project. On a second round of rummaging I came up with a liquidiser- of course my mother would have one of those with all those soups she makes. And that, finally I get to my point is why my pesto looks a bit like split pea soup- have you ever heard of overworked pesto? I had not until this day!
Fortunately it tastes delicious and besides which this ain’t no cheesy pesto! I don’t really know what it is, actually. It’s basil, garlic and olive oil but it’s spicy and there are no cheese or nuts. I like to toss it with rice and pasta. I fold it through ricotta and spread it on toast and blitz it into hummus (don’t try that in a liquidiser!).
You can taste the basil much better than when it’s mixed with cheese and nuts and it’s very light. Just try not to use a liquidiser- you always end up using more liquid than it wants and it’s so messy getting it out!
Oh, and after you read this you could head over to Good Food and check out my latest post there. Just a suggestion.
Basil chermoula pesto
You can store this in the fridge for a couple of weeks or even freeze- I put it on absolutely everything! Feel free to swap the basil for mint.
Makes 2 Cups
Diet Facts: You can use half oil half chicken stock to make healthier
2 large bunches basil (picked leaves = 150g or 14 loose cups) or mint
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (depends on how hot you like things!)
zest & juice 1 lemon (2 tsp zest & 2 Tbsp juice)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp kosher salt
100ml/ generous 1/3 cup good olive oil
Rinse the basil leaves and put straight into the blender- don’t worry about fully drying. Put all of the ingredients into a blender (except for the oil) and whiz until mostly fine. Add the oil gradually and blend again to the consistency you like.