Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pesto Fusilli


The boyfriend came down to visit me last Monday and he's staying for four weeks. As I write this he's sat next to me getting increasingly frustrated with Little Big Planet. But's he's still not as frustrated as he was when I was playing along with him. I'm hopeless at some games, so I don't blame him.

However, I do succeed in making him nice food. Well, at least I like to think I do, and that his nods and mmmm's of approval are sincere. Yeah. Of course he likes my food. And I'm currently turning his attention to pesto.



I think pesto must be one of the most versatile of sauces in the kitchen. When I first discovered it, I would use it simply stirred into hot pasta and tossed with a smattering of grated Parmesan. This is still my favourite way to eat pesto, but there are so many other things that can be done with it.

Spread over fish and baked. Stirred into a potato salad. Dotted on top of a pizza. Swirled into hummus. Made into a dressing. Spooned into soups. Dolloped on to risottos. 


Nowadays, the use of food processors is common place when making pesto. But, traditionally, it's made using a pestle - which comes from the same root as 'pesto'. Though using a food processor involves a lot less elbow grease, it gives a different flavour. This is not to say it's necessarily a bad thing, however. Coarser pestos will have a fresher basil flavour, and this can be achieved by either using a pestle or carefully operating your food processor.  




Pesto Fusilli with Ham

The recipe makes about 380g of pesto. It can be stored in a clean, airtight container in the fridge for a week or so. If you want a thicker sauce, you can reduce the amount of olive oil used by up to half.

Serves 2

30g basil leaves
5g sea salt
100g pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
100g Parmesan, plus extra for serving
200ml olive oil
180g fusilli or other pasta
100g ham hock

Place the basil, salt, nuts and garlic in a food processor and blitz using the pulse button until you get a coarse paste. Add the Parmesan and pulse until it's incorporated. Then dribble the oil down the feed tube whilst on a slow speed.

Cook the pasta per packet instructions, then drain and return straight to the pan. Depending upon preference, stir in 3 or 4 tablespoons of the pesto and the ham hock. Serve with extra Parmesan. 

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