My boyfriend gave me a beautiful granite mortar and pestle for my birthday and I’ve been experimenting with it. So today I thought I would share with you one of my all-time favourite uses for it – Basil Pesto! I have always made this with a food processor and never really thought that there would be a difference in taste or texture; boy was I wrong!
This pesto has an amazing rich flavour and I hardly needed any oil because the toasted pine nuts release a lovely fragrant oil of their own and using the pestle really allows the juice from the basil leaves to mix everything together nicely.
I had this with pasta but it would also be wonderful spread onto some nice crusty Italian bread with tomatoes or mixed with roasted vegetables for a great entrée.
Makes: Enough for two people
- 50 – 60g fresh basil leaves
- 40g pine nuts
- 2 small garlic cloves
- A pinch of coarse sea salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
First, wash the basil leaves well. Now lay them in a single layer on some kitchen/paper towel and let them dry naturally – don’t rub them, it won’t take long! Whilst they are drying, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until lightly golden and you can see that they are releasing oils; you’ll smell it.
Turn the heat off and leave the pine nuts to the side. In your mortar place the two peeled garlic cloves and the then the salt. It’s really best that the salt is coarse as this will help the grinding action of the pestle. Now add in the dried basil leaves a little at a time and work the pestle into them with a circular motion whilst pressing down with the pestle against the sides of the mortar. Keep doing this until you have used all the leaves and you should be left with a dark green mushy mess.
Add to this the pine nuts and continue in the same way, pressing them into the basil and garlic mixture until everything looks creamier. Now add the oil and pepper. The smell is heavenly.
Stir this into hot pasta, spread onto bread for an awesome bruschetta, drop onto hot grilled vegetables, use in a salad dressing…your options are endless!