To celebrate the arrival of La Latteria’s delicious burrata and the early Marmande tomatoes, a classic pesto recipe this week. Chefs like to make pesto with all sorts of things these days: some versions are more successful than others, but I have yet to try one which surpasses the classic masterpiece in all its glory. Here, the spinach is not a traditional addition but it gives a beautiful green colour and just tempers the intensity of the basil; it gives you a bit more for your money and results in what I consider a perfectly balanced pesto. Given you only want to coarsely blend the pesto, do chop the garlic first; otherwise the leaves will be blended too fine by the time the garlic is sufficiently pureed. Pine nuts are nearly as expensive as fillet steak, so use a timer when toasting, and doing so in the oven always gives a more even result than in a pan. I know such exact measurements may take a bit of the romance out of making such a simple thing, but just think of it as taking the shortest path to the desired end result, rather than it needing a bit more of “this or that” each time. I spend time developing these recipes so you don’t have to! A spoon of fresh pesto also transforms a simple vegetable soup into something verdant, full-flavoured and deeply nourishing. Simply sweat some vegetables (onion, fennel, celery, carrot) in plenty of olive oil and a pinch of salt in a pan with a lid, then add water to cover and simmer until more cooked than al dente but not completely tender (the water maintains the crystal clear flavours of the vegetables, rather than muddying it with a stock cube). Add some greens of your choice and tinned white beans, then add a generous spoon or 2 of pesto per person. It is one of those dishes that is even more delicious because it tastes so good for you.
120g Baby spinach
40g Toasted pine nuts
5g Garlic, finely chopped
300g Olive oil
100g Grated parmesan
- Blend everything together for 10 secs in a blender or hand-blender.
- It should be coarse rather than completely smooth.
- If keeping in the fridge, place some clingfilm on top in contact with the pesto to delay any oxidation.