I have decided to try out three different pestos.
These are basic ingredients based on the process described at the atlantic blog.
- 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
- 2 cups leaves
- big pinch of coarse salt
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 5 tbsl grated hard Italian cheese
- 3 tbsp oil
For the garlic for all three portions I used smoked garlic from The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight – also found at Winchester Farmers Market. I only used one medium sized clove pr portion and looking back I could have used two since smoked garlic has a very mild taste.
For the cheese I used Parmesan and for the salt as always I used some lovely “Læsø Syde Salt” from the small Danish Island called Læsø where the Læsø Saltsyderi make salt from the very salty ground water which they extract through a traditional process.
For this one I used all the basic leaves from my basil plants which now look a bit sad. I bought them a couple of months ago to make some pesto and when I had plucked all the leaves of then I decided to leave the plants in the window thinking that they would probably die anyway in a couple of days. It has to be said that I have not had a lot of luck with basil. I tried last year to grow some from seed – but they soon died. Every time I buy some from the shop they also tend to die quite fast no mater what I do. So this time expecting them to die I decided that I was just going to ignore them. Within a couple of days they began to look a bit droopy and i gave them a bit of water and already they began to look a bit better again. This had continued for about a month until the other day when I had three plants full of the most beautiful fresh basil leaves. I have found the secret – basil just doesn’t like attention – at least not from me. They want to be left in peace and have a bit of water once in a while when they go all soft and droopy. Lets see if I can ignore them enough this time around for them to grow those nice leaves back.
The Watercress pesto probably looks the best. I got the Watercress from Cresson Creative at the Winchester Farmers Market. Last time we went we also got some watercress sauce to mix with Crème fraiche and put on our pasta and this was also very good. Apparently, all this watercress comes from Alresford which on Sunday the 11th May will host the Alresford Watercress Festival. Watercress is recognized as a ‘superfood’ and has been grown in the Alresford area for centuries and was introduced to a wider population with the railway in the mid 19th century.
The rocket came from a pack from Asda – not very exciting really. Also I realized while trying to mix the rocket with the pinenut mixture in the mortar that I should have removed all the stalks from the rocket. Actually I should probably have tried to do this mixing in a blender and not by hand.
As you might see all three pesto are very coarse. This is on purpose as I wanted to try making pesto where you can actually taste the different ingredients. I succeeded in that. However, in the future I might still attempt to mix basil pesto in my mortar but I think I will stick to making watercress or pocket pesto in a blender. The leaves are quite exhausting to chop by hand.