The joy of making your own pesto is that you can use up a lot of storecupboard bits. Basically with some nuts, oil, cheese, herbs and seasoning you can create a tasty pesto for use with many dishes. Peanuts, cashews, walnuts, brazils, almonds – all cheaper than the traditional pine nut recipe but still give a delicious flavoursome pesto. Mix them if you want to use some leftover nuts in the cupboard. Pecans, macadamia, and hazelnuts are also options.
In my recipe here I have roasted hazelnuts and brazils to give a nutty flavour and although darker than traditional pesto it is still is packed with flavour. I had some salad leaves that needing using so in addition to traditional herbs, I added some leaves. I never throw away lettuce, watercress or rocket – it can be used as here in a pesto or in soups and sauces such as a tomato or vegetable sauce.
I served the pesto with grilled sea bass fillet, sauteed Romaine lettuce and a cocktail of shrimps, capers and green olives.
Roasted nut and salad leaves pesto
- 2 large handfuls of Tenderstem leaves or other salad leaves
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Small bunch herbs - parsley or basil
- 6 tbsp nuts - almonds brazils, cashews or peanuts
- 2 tbsp cheese - cheddar or parmesan, grated
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and coarse ground black pepper
Optional additions -
- Chilli flakes
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes in a moderate oven taking care not to let them brown to much or they will taste bitter. Alternatively spread out into a frying pan and cook gently until just starting to brown.
- Leave to cool.
- Place the cooled nuts, herbs and salad leaves into a processor and whizz for about 30 seconds until evenly broken down into small pieces.
- Add the oil and cheese and any optional extras if using. Process again for about 30 seconds. You should have a smooth blended mix.
- Add enough lemon juice to taste, and season.
- Scrape into a bowl or jar to use as needed.
- It keeps for a week in the fridge or can be frozen.