Pesto is a generic term for anything which is made by pounding. Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. Nothing tastes as good as home-made pesto, and my version takes just minutes to prepare in a food processor. Adding parsley to the mixture helps to give a good green colour. If you like you could add a few chopped, sun-blush tomatoes to the spaghetti, too, or sprinkle with some pine nuts and shaved Parmesan.
At a restaurant I went to recently they served an amuse bouche of halved cherry tomatoes and tiny balls of mozzarella with a blob of fresh pesto on top, each one speared with a cocktail stick. They were simply delicious.
Another good way to serve pesto is to make a tomato, mozzarella and pesto wrap. You will need one tortilla wrap; 1 tbsp mayonnaise mixed with 1 teaspoon pesto; 1 large ripe tomato, skinned, deseeded and quartered; and 60g sliced mozzarella. Simply warm the wrap in a microwave or in a dry frying pan. Spread over the pesto and mayonnaise mixture. Then lay the mozzarella and tomato down the centre of the wrap. Season with salt and pepper, roll up and cut in half diagonally.
This is also a fun recipe for children to make with you.
Preparation time: 8 minutes. Cooking time: 8 minutes. Makes four portions.
● 225g (8 oz) spaghetti
● 50g (2 oz) pine nuts
● 50 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated plus extra for serving
● 1–2 garlic cloves
● Small bunch of parsley leaves
● Small bunch of basil leaves and stalks
● Pinch of sugar
● 100 ml (3½ fl oz) olive oil
● 1 tbsp water
● Salt and freshly ground black pepper
● First toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly golden. Stir them so that they do not burn. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
● Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.
● Meanwhile, tip the Parmesan, garlic, parsley, basil, sugar and cooled pine nuts into a food processor and whiz until finely chopped.
● Slowly add the olive oil while the motor is whizzing. l Add the water and season. Spoon into a small bowl.
● Drain the cooked pasta and put it back into the saucepan. l Add 4–5 tablespoons of pesto and toss together.
● Sprinkle with extra Parmesan before serving.