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Hey pesto!

February 13, 2010

Since I moved here in December I have been enjoying an extensive library of cookbooks, one of the perks of living with the Explody parental unit. That the collection is augmented by volumes that my brother, currently sous chef at Cutler & Co, couldn’t fit in his suitcase when he moved to Melbourne, is an added bonus. Surely of the two of us, I’m the one who needs the books more anyway, right?

Working my way through the collection, this morning I picked up a copy of Bel Mondo: Beautiful World by the always delightful Stefano Manfredi and John Newton. I soon discovered that it is no ordinary cookbook. The recipes are almost incidental to the fascinating text. It is at once a history of Bel Mondo and dining in Sydney, and a glimpse behind the scenes of a top Sydney restaurant; a snapshot of the lives of the chefs and floorstaff who endeavour to provide a memorable experience for their guests. In short, the perfect cookbook for a history and food nut like me

It so happened that today we had planned to make some pesto to use up some of the acres of basil growing in the garden, so I decided that our pesto would be a homage to Stefano on the 10th anniversary of the release of A Beautiful World. I figured that Stefano would approve of this, utilising seasonal and abundant produce from Mama Explody’s wonderful kitchen garden, as well as some fantastic local garlic I picked up at the farmers’ market the other day.

Ocimum basilicum

Allium sativum

I clearly remember the first time I ate homemade pesto. It was a culinary revelation. I was in my early teens I suppose, and at a family luncheon at the home of my favourite Aunt and Uncle, a narrow terrace in Summer Hill (an exotic location for a country lass!) The meal included a dish taken from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook comprising rare roast lamb carved at the table and served with fresh grassy-green pesto, perfectly emulsified and pungent with garlic. Being that lamb and pesto are totally retarded for each other, I was knocked out by this moreish combination of flavours. My eyes never fail to mist over when I remember that very first pesto party in my mouth.

Anyway, back to the now. Forget the nonsense you buy in jars at the supermarket, this is the proverbial ducks guts. Serve with anything from spaghetti to roasted or steamed vegetables, crusty bread, ripe summer tomatoes, or simply straight from the jar into your mouth (I cannot guarantee that Mr Manfredi personally approves of these serving methods).

Pesto (from Bel Mondo: A Beautiful World by Stefano Manfredi and John Newton)

3 cloves garlic
85g pine nuts, toasted, niiiicely toasted
3 large handfuls of basil leaves
100ml extra virgin olive oil
8 tablespoons grated parmesan
salt

Leaves n cheese

Leaves n cheese

Place the garlic, pine nuts and basil in a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients start to break up. Add the olive oil gradually until it is all incorporated. Mix in the parmesan, season to taste and store in the refrigerator until it is to be served. I doubled the quantities above which produced three small jars of deliciousness.

Mixed up

Bottled up

Update: the homemade pesto elevated our Sunday night pizza to all new heights, topped with thinly sliced kumatoes and crumbled feta. Yum!

Pesto on a pizza

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2010 21:06

    Pesto party in your mouth, ha ha ha love it.

  2. February 14, 2010 01:50

    Beautiful post Felicity. Bel Mondo is certainly a beautiful book, and your post has done justice to it. Really enjoying your blog x @frombecca

  3. February 14, 2010 09:13

    Oh Felix! Wish I could taste your pesto!

  4. felixexplody permalink*
    February 14, 2010 11:14

    Maggie: 😉

    @frombecca: thankyou my love!

    Reemski: email me your address and I’ll post you a jar, for serious!

  5. Fiona L permalink
    February 14, 2010 13:22

    Do you know pesto is my FAVOURITE FOOD IN THE WORLD?

    *licks screen*

    xx

  6. February 14, 2010 19:06

    Mmm, you’ve solved my “what’s on the menu for meatless Monday” question! Now I just have to wait until tomorrow…

  7. Horatio Bunker permalink
    February 15, 2010 14:01

    Toasted, niiiicely toasted *~*

  8. pommiefoodie permalink
    February 16, 2010 11:22

    Mmmm. I have a quantity of basil to pesto-ise as well but I keep sticking at the pine nuts issue. I hate em. Nasty, rancid tasting icky icky icky. Can’t find a recipe without pine nuts. Any thoughts?

    • felixexplody permalink*
      February 16, 2010 11:37

      That’s intriguing, I love pine nuts! 🙂 Easy fixed though, just replace the pine nuts with an equivalent quantity of another nut you like. Unsalted cashews or blanched almonds would be yummy I reckon! Even nut-free pesto tastes delish (I know, because when I made this batch I forgot to put them in and only realised when I tasted it at the end, haha!)

  9. Melanie Young permalink
    March 1, 2010 04:41

    hey Felix, I am trying to address my temporary insomnia by reading some blogs but your pesto is getting me way too engaged…..any way my point is this….I’ve been buying organic pine nuts in Melbourne. They’re not easy to get and they’re expensive but they take the pine nut to new and great heights. Have you had the organic ones? Whenever I find them I get a big bag for a couple of friends who are very good to me as a gift and they love them. Mel x

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