I made this one a few days ago (no new lens or light setup..), and have only just got round to writing it up. It comes straight from the pages of Jamie’s Kitchen (Jamie Oliver). In my opinion you are pretty hard pushed to come up with a quick pasta dish tastier than this. Course, that pretty much sums up pesto to be honest.
We don’t often eat pasta and potatoes together here in the US (or in the UK for that matter), but the results here are outstanding. The green beans work well, and give a little crunch. In fact, I reckon I am going to have to try just green beans and pesto together, without the starch soon.
So, making pesto. It can be as little or as much work as you want to give yourself. If you want to be quick, then use a food processor. If you want to do it properly then either hand chop, or even better use a pestle and mortar. The P&M tends to push more flavor out of the basil, but blimey it can be hard work sometimes. Next best is the good old hand chop. This results in a decent tasting pesto for sure, with good texture. Don’t get me wrong, the food processor isn’t bad, however the texture of the basil that comes out isn’t the same, and in my mind lacks some of flavor of either hand chopping or the pestle and mortar. However, if you are in a rush, you honestly have a decent enough pesto in a few minutes. Whatever way you choose, pesto is an awesome buildup to a meal. The aromatics that get given off whilst making just plain make you hungry. Really hungry. Good job really, because I always make more of this recipe when ever I do it, kidding myself that there will be some left over for lunch.
Here is my basic pesto recipe. For the whole recipe for this dish, you will need to check out his book (quick version – boil pasta, potatoes and beans together, drain, add pesto, loosen with cooking liquid).
Basil – at least 3 good handfuls
Finely grated Parmesan – depending on strength, 1 to 2 handfulls (use the best Parmesan you have – Reggiano if you have it)
Pinch of salt
1/2 garlic clove
1 handful of lightly toasted pine nuts (toast raw nuts in a dry pan over a low heat)
Really good olive oil
If hand chopping/pestle and mortar:
Chop the basil finely, along with the pine nuts, add the salt. Crush the garlic clove and mix with the basil/nuts. If you are using a P&M, don’t chop as fine, and now start to grind. When it is looking reasonably smooth (still with texture though) add the parmesan. If chopping – put the basil/nuts/garlic in a bowl with the parmesan, and mix well.
Now with either mixture – add some oil. Just pour a bit in. Mix it up. Look at the consistency. If it is still looking pretty dry, and not binding together add more oil. If it needs to be a wee bit stickier then add some more cheese. Taste, and see what flavors emerge. Add more parmesan or oil if required. I like to let this stand for 10 minutes before using, that is just me – I think it helps the flavors merge (especially if you used a food processor).
For the food processor (lazy) version: bung the basil and pine nuts in the processor, and blend until you have them finely chopped. Proceed as above after that.