I love working with fresh ingredients, and luckily enough for me – I can get them delivered weekly to my doorstep (Green Tokri, holla!). This week, my choice ingredient was Basil. I’ve never made a Pesto sauce from scratch before, so this was as good a time as any to give it a try. As you may or may not know, Parmesan Cheese is a premium ingredient, traditionally used along with Pine Nuts and Basil to make a Pesto sauce. Unfortunately, even the smallest Parmesan slabs available at stores here are too expensive for my budget, so I decided to improvise and use Amul Cheese instead. Purists – I know what you’re thinking – blasphemy! – but this was just for experimental and economical purposes, so don’t judge. Here’s how it went down:
Basil (fresh leaves)
Cheese (I used Amul)
Lime Juice (1 tsp)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
(Quantity wise – I had my own agenda, but used roughly 1/3rd the amount of Pine Nuts to Basil, about 10 cloves of peeled Garlic and 1/2 as much Cheese as the Basil. For a traditional Pesto recipe with exact quantities, refer to this Basil Pesto recipe.)
Toast the Pine Nuts on a low flame in a dry pan until they start to colour. Give the pan an occasional shake to prevent them from burning. This will help to release their natural oil, as well as give a lovely toasted, nutty flavour to the Pesto (p.s. toasted Pine Nuts smell like popcorn – heavenly!).
Add them to the Basil leaves and Garlic cloves and process in a blender. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh Pesto – absolutely gorgeous!! Drizzle in the Olive Oil slowly and keep blending, until a velvety green texture is reached.
Sprinkle in the Salt & Pepper to taste and add the 1 tsp of Lime juice which will lift the overall flavour. Then, add the Cheese slowly, according to your preference and blend again until creamy.
Be careful not to over-blend! The more Cheese you add, the creamier and thicker the consistency of the sauce. I added a bit too much Cheese to the Pesto this time, but the taste still turned out great!
In case you can’t use it immediately, store it in an airtight container and cover the top with a layer of Olive Oil. This will keep for upto 2 days in the fridge. If you plan on using the Pesto immediately, just cook your Pasta of choice according to the directions on the packet, drain and add the Pesto. Serve with a sprinkle of Cheese over the top, or garnish with Sundried Tomatoes. Happy Eating!