I use it on top of pasta (thin with a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and, if needed, more olive oil), but it can be spread over bruschetta, pizza and sandwiches, drizzled over salads and used on pretty much everything you can think of. For a variation, add a tablespoon of ricotta. Or change the herbs: try sage, parsley or mint, or a mix of everything.
Every year, my aunt holidays in Lampedusa, an islet just south of Sicily. And every year, she brings back local delicacies, such as fennel liqueur and fresh capers. My favourite gift is always pistachios. The green and purple gems sparkle in your hands, and the real fresh Bronte pistachios have an aroma far superior to anything you can find on a shelf. I figured the best way to take advantage of this precious gift was to make pesto.
- 80 g shelled pistachios
- 20 g blanched almonds
- 6-8 basil leaves
- 20 g Parmigiano Reggiano
- ½ garlic clove
- a pinch of salt
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the pistachios and almonds on an oven tray and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Rub the pistachios in a tea towel to remove the skins.
Place the nuts, basil, Parmigiano, garlic and salt in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. With the motor running, add the oil, a little at a time, until a rough pesto consistency.
Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle. Pound the garlic and salt to a paste, then add the basil. Once a brilliant green paste forms, gradually add the nuts. Halfway, alternate adding the nuts with the Parmigiano. Add the oil, a little at a time, once the paste starts getting too thick. It will take some patience, but the final result is very rewarding.
Recipe from Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini, with photographs by Valentina Solfrini.