Red Basil Pesto

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I’ve noticed when I make pesto, like the one I did the other day, the basil tends to go brown, after a while. After advice from Annabel Langbein and a bit of reserch on the internet, it seems that blanching the leaves beforehand is the answer to ever delicious looking pesto. So here is an updated version of my pesto recipe that will work just as well with red basil pesto as with green. This time I’ve used pecan nuts, which I think work well with the more bitter flavour of the red basil, but you can use pine nuts as in traditional pesto, if you prefer.

 Red Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, green or red
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Toast the pecan nuts lightly over medium heat until golden. Be careful not to burn. Leave to cool. Blanch the basil leaves for just a few seconds in plenty of boiling water, then rinse and cool in an icebath. Dab the leaves dry on a clean teatowel. They don’t need to be superdry, just not soaking wet, so they water out the pesto. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the basil pesto to clean glass jars, and pour over a little olive oil to cover, then seal. The pesto will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Preserving with House and Garden

Currently published in NZ House & Garden Magazine #236, this beautiful preserving story is sure to inspire.
Styling by Claudia Kozub, food styling by Jo Wilcox

From top left:

Crabapples
Spiced Pickled Crabapples
Fig & Sweet Orange Marmalade on Toast with Butter
Nashi & Ginger Chutney on Cheese & Crackers
Golden Peaches in Vanilla Bean Syrup

NZ House & Garden are giving away the recipe for preserving the Golden Peaches in Vanilla Bean Syrup on their website here

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Semi Dried Tomatoes

Baked Tomatoes Baked TomatoesBaked Tomatoes Baked Tomatoes

All this talk about tomatoes, I thought maybe a recipe was in order. Just at the end of the season, if you aren’t growing tomatoes yourself, it should be easy to get loads of them for cheap. Use this easy recipe to intesify and store their beautiful flavour.

Semi Dried Tomatoes
Makes 2 jars

3 kg small tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
Olive oil, for cooking
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups of olive oil
Fresh basil (or any other preferred herb)
5 cloves of garlic

Half the tomatoes, spread them on a roasting pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar, and then put them in the oven and bake for 10-12 hours at 100 degrees – preferably overnight. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the cooking time. You don’t want them to be completely dried, but still soft and plump.

Once done to your liking, leave to cool. Place the semi dried tomatoes in glass jars with basil (or any other preferred herb), whole garlic and cover with olive oil.  Seal and place them in the refrigerator. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of months. You can also bake capsicums and chilli to mix in with the tomatoes. Great on toast with goats cheese and basil pesto.

Homemade Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto Basil Pesto Basil Pesto Basil Pesto

On the deck of the studio, I’ve always got a selection of herbs growing. They are great to have handy for shoots, and off course they look nice as well. At the moment, I’ve got more basil than I can eat, so I decided to make some of it into pesto. Here’s a quick and easy recipe:

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little extra for storage
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Toast the pine nuts lightly over medium heat until golden. Be careful not to burn. Leave to cool. Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the basil pesto to clean glass jars, and pour over about 1/2 cm of olive oil to cover, then seal. The oil will prevent the pesto from browning. The pesto will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.