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Stylish but straightforward: Basil Pesto

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Homemade Basil Pesto with Penne, deconstructed Bruschetta, and Pecorino Romano.

This is a fresh dish that relies on good ingredients, not necessarily high quality cooking skills. The key, as is often the case, is to keep tasting as you go.


You will need:

Fresh basil leaves (handful)

Pine nuts- (you can lightly toasted these in a dry frying pan for extra flavour, but be careful, they burn very easily)

A little fresh garlic

Half a red onion

Five cherry tomatoes

Hard Cheese (I chose Pecorino, but there are a lot of others to try)

Good olive oil

Pasta (I used Penne)

Three slices of good bread (i.e. Ciabatta)

Salt and Pepper

1              Make the pesto: If you don’t have a food processor or a pestle and mortar, you can simply chop the ingredients finely with a knife.

For one portion (and multiply as required) finely chop a good handful of fresh basil leaves. Also chop a little nib of garlic and a teaspoon of pine nuts. Add a little salt and pepper with a little grating of the cheese, and when all the ingredients are in the bowl, add decent olive oil until you achieve an oozy consistency- not too thin.

2              Set aside whilst you make the bruschetta topping. Quarter five cherry tomatoes and put into a colander. Add and pinch of salt to the tomatoes and gently move the tomatoes around to try and get some of the water out of them.

Once this is done, add to a bowl, a half a small red onion (finely chopped). Mix the ingredients with a little oil and seasoning. You are essentially looking for a chunky salsa consistency. Set aside.

3              Put the pasta on according the packet instructions. Season the water with a good pinch of salt—adding salt to the pasta water really does make a difference to the taste.

4              Whilst the pasta is boiling (in plenty of water), take three slices of artisan bread, preferably Ciabatta, and toast/grill with a little oil drizzled on them to help achieve a nice golden colour.

When al dente (not too soft, but with a little firmness till there) drain the pasta and tip the pasta back into the pan. Add in the pesto and stir vigorously until the Penne is well covered. There will be a little water still left on the pasta which will be cause the pesto and emulsify into a smooth sauce.

Spoon into a wide bowl and add some of the tomato mix on top and add a good grating of cheese.

Serve with the bread on the side and maybe a fresh, light beer.


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