What to cook when you don’t want to cook Part 2


Today a quick post for an even quicker recipe for homemade pesto. ‘Pesto?’ I hear you cry, ‘I can buy that everywhere, and anyway isn’t it just a way of getting some green into fussy pasta-only children?’ Well, yes and no. Yes, you can buy it anywhere, next to the fresh pasta in the supermarket or in a jar from your corner shop. And yes, kids, even the picky variety, do tend to like its flavour. But (and this is the no part) it’s not just for kids and when you make it yourself, not only are you in control over what goes in it, the flavour is off the scale compared to that green sludge in a jar.

My slightly-picky-but-not-half-as-exasperating-as-he-used-to-be 9yo loves the stuff – would happily eat it by the ladleful. He likes it stirred through pasta cooked with some green beans (I snuck these in once and he didn’t object so they’ve become a permanent feature) with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts scattered over the top. I think he’s onto something here. Throw in a load of chopped bits and pieces bought from the deli aisle in your local supermarket – olives, grilled artichokes, sun-blush tomatoes, even some parma ham to placate those in your family who shudder at the thought of a meat-free meal – and you have something that’s quite substantial, grown up and can all be put together while the pasta is boiling. The 9yo also declares a toasted baguette with a smear of pesto, some mozzarella and a slice of tomato ‘the best sandwich ever.’

Hold on a minute, there’s a delivery man at the door. Please bear with me…

…OK, am I right in saying that today is the 8th day of the month known as January? Yes? Thought so. So why the fuck has my husband ordered all this?*:



Two dozen, in fact 28 bottles of wine. Not any old wine either. No, fine wine. This is either an act of sabotage (me being on this poxy diet) or he’s just being plain old mean. Whatever happened to solidarity? So tonight while I am gagging on this:


He’ll be enjoying a glass (or let’s face it, it’s Friday, a bottle) of this:


Utter, utter bastard.

Sorry, this has rather put me off my stride. Where was I? Oh yes, pesto blah blah blah whatever.  Do what you want with it really: drizzle on soup, stir through cous cous, stuff into chicken breasts, or alternatively into the breast pocket of your husband’s favourite suit. S’up to you.


You will need a food processor or some sort of chopping/pulverising gadget to make this quickly, although I think a blender might whizz it up too finely. I have a Magimix ‘le mini’ which is one of my favourite bits of kitchen kit, good for breadcrumbs, pastry, houmous etc. yet small enough not to clutter up my limited worktop space.  You could chop it all up by hand, but that kind of defeats the object of this whole post.

I do not put pine nuts in my pesto because I think they often taste a bit dusty, so I toast them in a dry frying pan and sprinkle them on top if people want them.

So, take a big bunch of basil – about 100g – and put it in your processor, stalks and all. Add a good pinch of salt, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a very generous handful of grated parmesan, a small handful of pine nuts if you like them, a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a scant scraping of crushed garlic (I’m not very good with raw garlic but do feel free to add more). Whizz it all up into a coarse paste, then while the motor is still running (if your gadget allows) add a slow trickle of olive oil until the whole lot is emulsified and looks like the stuff you get in the supermarket. Taste and add more cheese, lemon juice, or salt if it needs it. To store, put in a jar and cover with a film of EV olive oil, and keep in fridge (lasts about 10 days as long as you keep it covered in oil).

This works with different herbs and nuts too. Try sage and almond (à la Anna Jones – top veggie cookbook writer), basil and pistachio, or rocket/parsley with walnut. The latter is permitted on my poxy diet, as are two glasses of (fine) red wine from next week. Whoop whoop.

*Have just called husband to yell enquire about wine delivery and he said that this was his Christmas wine order that took him about an hour and a half to do, only to discover at checkout, that there were no delivery slots until January. He was so cross he pressed ‘confirm order’ anyway. So all is forgiven, as long as he doesn’t rub my nose in it this evening (might be quite nice actually). A dry(ish) January doesn’t seem quite so bad, when I’ve got Fine Wine February to look forward to. Have a good weekend.



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