Classic basil pesto


As far as I'm concerned, a house is not a home without pesto. Apart from the fact it's so delicious, it's a brilliant way to include vitamin and mineral packed leafy greens. The olive oil and fat from the pine nuts ensures all that goodness is bio-available and it can redeem almost anything. You can easily replace a portion of the basil with parsley or young rocket.

2 handfuls basil leaves 1/2 cup/ 50 gm parmesan cheese 1/4 cup / 40gm pine nuts 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1/3 cup/ 80ml extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Try not to blend for too long - pesto should be chunky, not a smooth, homogeneous blend

DAIRY FREE PESTO : dairy free/vegan, gluten free: Makes 1 cup

2/3 cup /85gm pine nuts (try roasting them also) 3 cups /45gm basil leaves 2 teaspoons shiro (white) miso 2 cloves garlic 1 tablespoon lemon juice 100 ml extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until combined. Or in a mortar and pestle, add all ingredients with a small amount of olive oil, bash together until well combined and add remaining olive oil.

TAPENADE : dairy free/vegan/gluten free: Makes 1 cup approx.

This olive spread will last for approx 2-3 weeks in the fridge, and will immediately add depth of flavour to what was otherwise dull and plain.

1 cup best quality olives, pitted - kalamata are lovely for this 1 - 2 cloves garlic freshly ground black pepper to taste 7 - 8 fresh oregano leaves small sprig fresh rosemary - leaves only best quality extra virgin olive oil

Check the taste of your olives first - if they are very salty, you may need to give them a little rinse under some water. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until the desired consistency is achieved - I like it fairly coarse. Taste and adjust if needed - more pepper, garlic or oregano leaves? Place into a clean jar and top with a thin layer of olive oil.

Little Savoury Pizzas: wheat free if spelt puff is used. Makes 6:

Better than anything you would spend big money on in a patisserie - line these up and watch them disappear. They make a great brunch or lunch, especially at Christmas when ham is often in the fridge. With ready rolled puff in the freezer, especially scraps, they take about 5 minutes to assemble. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the ham - they still taste fantastic.

1 x 24cm piece rolled puff pastry cut into 6 organic, nitrate-free ham 2 medium, ripe tomatoes - sliced salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste a good quality melting cheese (I like the Heidi Tilsit) fresh basil leaves Pre heat oven to 190c (conventional) or 175c (fan forced) Line a tray with baking paper and lay the slices of puff on this.

Return to the freezer for a couple of minutes to firm up. Working along the centre of each slice of puff, lay the ham, then the tomatoes, salt and pepper, topped with cheese and the basil leaves tucked between the layers. Place in oven and cook for 15 - 20 mins or until the pastry is golden. If desired, top with pesto and/or olives or tapenade.

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