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Easy Fix


It’s been a while.

A new arrival in the family AND a husband in Siberia (apparently a coincidence) have meant that I haven’t had mountains of time on my hands.

But, I have been cooking. Needs must. With one babe in the sling and the other clattering around with pots and pans, I can just about grab thirty minutes here and there to clatter some pans of my own.

Admittedly this recipe doesn’t actually involve any pots and pans. Or cooking, for that matter. Therein lies its beauty.

All hail, Pesto. During the Summer, it is your jack of all trades: in pasta, of course, but also with grilled meat or fish, with a hearty salad, on bruschetta…. You can whip it up in five minutes, pop it in the fridge and then get creative.

I’ve been experimenting for some time with various different combinations of herbs and nuts (see here for my pistachio and coriander version), but in the Summer I feel that Basil must reign supreme. The plant in my mother’s extensive Provençale herb garden has certainly been calling to me over the past few weeks. Pine nuts have a hefty price tag these days, so I went with the more economical and just as sweet hazelnut. You can buy them ready roasted and skinned, or roast them yourself in a 170 degree C oven for ten minutes. Once they’ve cooled off, just roll them around the tin with your hands to flake off the skin.

So far I’ve enjoyed this on pasta, topped with roasted peppers, and on bruschetta with fresh tomatoes. Little AS is a big fan, and it provides an instantly nutritious meal for him (and me) served with whole grain pasta and some frozen peas.

Hazelnut and basil pesto

Makes one jar, takes 5 minutes

I’m usually cooking with a babe in mind, so have kept the salt content here to a minimum, and not used as much oil as some may prefer. This gives a nuttier flavour and denser texture which is ultra tasty. Feel free to add a pinch of sea salt if you like. The beauty of a pesto is that you can adjust each ingredient to your own taste - want something a bit cheesier? Add more parmesan. Fighting off a summer cold? Be liberal with the garlic. A little more unctuous? Hello, olive oil.

* Hazelnuts (roasted and most of the skins off) - 1 cup

* Basil - 1 cup of leaves

* Parmesan - 2 heaped tbsp, grated

* Garlic - 1 clove, peeled and sliced

* Olive oil - a few glugs

Blitz the hazelnuts in the small bowl of a blender until you have a rough crumb.

Add the basil, parmesan and garlic and mix until you have a thick paste.

Slowly add the olive oil (ideally with the mixer running), until you have your desired consistency.


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