Pack a punch pesto

This bright and bold pesto is the most versatile thing to come out of our kitchen. I’ve been making it for years and always have a few small pots in the freezer. They’re portioned up, ready to pull out for emergency planning shortages or last minute guests.

It is garlicky, earthy and incredibly moreish. It brings to life almost anything you throw at it including oven roast mushrooms, grilled goats cheese, pasta, roast chicken and fresh fish.

Pack a punch pesto

How to make:

I rarely use ‘cups’ and ‘handfuls’ as a way to measure a recipe, but this pesto really calls for it. It’s a good recipe to make your own, tweaking the ingredients as you taste.  Every time you make it you can throw a few different greens in or try a little more or less oil. You literally cannot go wrong on this one.

If you follow the guide below you will create a rich and thick pesto which is great as a dip or a marinade. From there you can thin it out with oil to make a lovely sauce to cover roast vegetables, pasta or to drizzle on salads.

  • 1/2 mug of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 mug of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 handfuls of kale, cavelo nero or spinach, roughly chopped, woody stems removed
  • A few generous glugs of olive oil
  • A few pinches of sea salt
  • About 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I love garlic so use less if you’re not a big fan)

Simply blitz all the dry ingredients and then add the oil to the food processor. Taste, then tweak the flavours or add more oil to your own preference.

A couple of ideas of how to serve:

Pan fried salmon served with warm pesto and an avocado, grape and seedy salad:

Salmon and pesto

Rocket and spinach leaves, balsamic roasted olives and vegetables with pan seared tuna:

Tuna and pesto

If you’re interested in moving to a a cleaner way of eating, moving the shop bought condiments to the bin is a good place to start. They are high in sugars and salts and usually have added preservatives too. Getting to grips with a few simple recipes like this one, gives you your own healthier options for sauces to accompany your proteins. See my Romesco-ish recipe for another simple and easy to make sauce.

Enjoy x

Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.

Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.

However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.

This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.

Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.

If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.

Saffron_1

For a salad for 4 try this with:

  • 2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • 1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • olive oil to brush vegetables
  • Lambs lettuce
  • 20g toasted pine nuts

For enough dressing for above with leftovers:

  • A small pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 tbsp of hot water
  • 180g greek yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Saffron_2

To prepare the salad:

  1. Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
  2. For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
  3. Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.

I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.

Enjoy x

Romesco-ish sauce

What a glorious sunny day. I have loved prepping, tasting and writing up this little post.

I used to order Abel and Cole vegetables for a while in England. It was one of the stepping stones to my appreciation of decent fruit and vegetables and a good induction in how to use different seasonal produce. They put handy ‘how to’ cards in the box with easy ideas of how to make the most of your order.

I’ve taken one of their suggestions and tweaked it.  Their Romesco is a bread based sauce. I have switched in parmesan and upped the garlic to make a really flavoursome pesto style sauce or dip.

We’ve ploughed through three batches of this one, so I’m confident I’ve done something right.

bowl_1

You don’t need much of this sauce, but maybe grate some extra parmesan when serving. Try it with roasted vegetables, salads, pasta or fish.

You will need:

  • 1 x large roasted red pepper (up to 30 minutes whole, then peel skin off when cool)
  • 60g almonds
  • 60g parmesan
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves (roast whole for 15 minutes, then squeeze out the pulpy garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 75g olive oil

ingredients_1

All you do:

  1. Pop the pepper and garlic in to roast at around 180 degrees (fan oven temperature).
  2. Toast the nuts for 20 minutes in a frying pan (without oil) on the hob.
  3. Once the pepper, nuts and garlic are ready, measure everything else while they cool.
  4. Once you have peeled the cooler pepper, pop the ingredients in a blender and blitz up.
  5. Taste and then tweak any of the ingredients if needed. (I used exactly as detailed here, but you may want to sharpen with more lemon or loosen up with more oil).
  6. Season to taste.

The best advice I can give, is that you pop the sauce in ice cube trays and freeze. Then you can use as and when you want it. It’s a go-to mid week option in our house, or a last minute choice if people are coming over.

My favourite way to eat this is to simply pop a couple of frozen cubes on top of a piece of fish, loosely wrap in foil then bake until the fish is cooked through and the sauce is warmed through.

tray_1

Beautiful! Hope you can try this one soon.